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City closes Big Apple club again
Big Apples

After a two-hour show cause hearing, held Dec. 3, City of Hinesville Mayor and Council voted to close Big Apple effective immediately and give the owners up to 45 days to present a new plan to the City to ensure the safety of its patrons and personnel. 

The show cause hearing was requested by City of Hinesville Police Chief Bill Kirkendall, during the Nov. 5 council meeting in response to a shooting incident that occurred at the club Oct. 23, and an issue they uncovered regarding the club’s security firm during their investigation.

The Chief said his officers arrived on scene and identified four shooters that were still exchanging gunfire as his officers attempted to control the scene. Kirkendall said the security firm hired by nightclub owner, Sun Ye Yang, obstructed and hindered their investigations.

“They didn’t cooperate at all with law enforcement,” Kirkendall said. “They refused to identify their staff to our officers investigating the scene and it’s just been one thing after another.”

HPD Detective Tracey Howard showed Mayor and Council a video that highlighted several incidents at Big Apple between March and October of this year. The video showed fights, conflicts and shootings both inside the club and outside in the parking lot. 

The video also showed Big Brother Nation Security Firm leader, Devon King, allegedly interfering with the Oct. 23, investigation. Howard said that during the incident guards allegedly pulled assault rifles from their cars and slung them across their shoulders.

Howard and Kirkendall also pointed out that BBN Security does not have a business license to conduct business in the city. Nor are they licensed and bonded by the state as required by law.

“The owners should have done some type of vetting,” Kirkendall said. “But it appears that they did not.”

Kirkendall said the owner of Big Apple had agreed to increase and hire professionally trained security. 

“Clearly these things were never done,” he said. “Where is the security with proper training? I asked that two years ago and I’ve asked since on subsequent occasions. I’ve asked them to provide documentation showing the training of this company. I have not received that. I’ve asked on several occasions where is their business license? Once again, I have not received that. Yet the management of the Big Apple much like the management of BBN Security is responsible for the actions of their employees.”

Kirkendall and Deputy City Attorney Cap Russell reminded Mayor and Council that the nightclub was shut down back in 2018 after several incidents endangered patrons and police. Incidents like these have occurred in that area for the past several years.

The nightclub was allowed to reopen this year after presenting a security plan to the City, Council and Mayor.

Attorney Ivy Hurt, representing Yang and the nightclub pointed out that her client cooperated fully with the police during the investigation of the Oct. 23 shooting.

Hurt said her client has repeatedly asked for more police presence outside the club.

“It is not just the Big Apple that has a problem,” Hurst said. “We have motels that are crime infested. “There are issues with drug abuse and drug dealings that are right there in that area.”

She said her client is concerned about the safety of their patrons. 

“I received a phone call probably five hours after it took place by a very panicked owner who was upset that her patrons had been injured,” Hurt said about the Oct. 23, shooting which wounded two men. “The owner was upset that her security was ill-equipped, unbeknownst to her, to handle the situation. She was appalled that something as simple as a shoving match ended up with multiple guns being drawn. We immediately started looking at solutions.”

She said the owner has taken several steps to improve security at Big Apple prior to re-opening and thought they had hired an adequately trained security firm when they hired BBN.

Russell told Mayor and Council, they had the option of doing nothing, place Big Apple on probation, immediately revoke their license or suspend their license.

“The City is asking for a suspension until further notice,” Russell said. “Until we can figure out and they can figure out what we can do to make this safe. This is not a safe environment for their customers. And it is certainly not a safe environment for the City.”

After an hour of discussion Mayor and Council voted to close Big Apple and give the owner up to 45 days to figure out a better way to secure the club.

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