By Erin Sherbert
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The police have reason to be watchful. Police Captain Albert Pardini says Bayview Station is already overwhelmed with drug dealing, gang activity, and one of the highest homicide rates in the city. "There's never any telling what type of crowd will be there from one week to the next," he says. "That puts an added strain on our patrols, because we have to make sure we have enough officers available to deal with the type of major incidents we've had down there."
Of all the trouble outside the club, one night eclipses the rest in the minds of the police and has tempered the city's attitude toward Butler and Fanatics. Just past midnight on Sunday, June 10, a squad car responded to calls of shots fired outside the club. As the first two responding officers sped toward 601 Cesar Chavez, they could not have known how crazy things were about to get.
The promoter and headlining DJs that night were known for having a young gangsta rap following with a history of attracting trouble. To avoid potential violence, the promoter hired Universal Distributor Security to provide up to 10 security guards for the show. UD Security's parent company at the time was Your Black Muslim Bakery, an organization alleged to be involved in child rape, kidnapping, torture, and the shotgun killing of East Bay journalist Chauncey Bailey.
Fanatics was filled to capacity by 11 p.m., and there were still an estimated 300 to 500 people outside who either could not get in or had simply come to hang out. Around the same time, managers at Club Hide across town on Seventh Street shut down an unruly hip-hop show, and its disgruntled patrons headed to Fanatics.
The crowd, now a thousand strong, became angry. Around 11:45 p.m., about 200 people rushed the front door. Fanatics staff and security held them back, but the crowd's anger was about to overflow.
"Everybody was just standing around outside," says Darrell Lee Anderson, who was part of the crowd. "There were no fights or anything like that, but all of a sudden the shooting started. It seemed like the shooting was coming from every direction."
The first two officers who arrived found a chaotic scene. Gunfire was coming from several cars and hundreds of people were screaming as they tried to run from the front of the club or dodge bullets. Despite the presence of the officers, people continued to fire their guns into the air and at buildings. Realizing the situation was out of control, the officers immediately called for backup.
Canine officer Michelle Liddicoet and her partner were among the first to respond to the backup call. "As we walked up Cesar Chavez to the front of the club, we heard several rapid-fire shots, people running and screaming about someone in front of the club with an AK-47," she wrote in her police report. "We continued to the front of the club, where there were numerous people hiding inside and underneath cars trying to escape the bullets. People began to run from the area and the shots continued to ring."
Just up the street, Officer Ajay Singh was making his way through the people running away from the club when, 10 feet ahead of him, 20-year-old Donevan Noordzee was shot in the foot. Noordzee was the only gunshot victim that night, according to police reports.
At some point a police officer fired a weapon, which triggered a citywide call for backup. More than 100 officers immediately dropped what they were doing at one of the busiest times of a weekend night to descend on Fanatics.
Police blocked off the street and searched each car for gunshot victims and weapons. Eighteen people were detained on suspicion of weapons-related violations, and police confiscated seven guns, an air pistol, and a knife. Six people, including three 19-year-olds, were ultimately charged. The following day a man was arrested on suspicion of firing the AK-47 assault rifle outside the club.
Butler blamed the promoter for the incident, though he refused to say who it was. "We worked with a promoter that night that we worked with before and everything went fine," he said. "There were no problems at all. And how can we be responsible for Club Hide closing down that night? We've done everything we can to avoid something like that ever happening again." Butler also says Club Hide managers acted irresponsibly by closing their event so early.
But Captain Pardini said Butler has continued to stage hip-hop performers and DJs since that night and while there have been no further shootings, there are still problems with sideshows, fights, and underage drinking.
Butler's political friends have since distanced themselves from him. Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, who held her 2006 election night victory party at Fanatics, would not return phone calls about Butler or his club. The Reverend Amos Brown, who received almost $3,000 from Butler during his successful 1998 bid to be re-elected to the Board of Supervisors, said he had no comment.
Newsom's spokesman Nathan Ballard downplayed the mayor's appearance at the ribbon cutting. "The mayor goes to a lot of events," he says. "There were a couple of things going on down there that day, and I don't even know if he was there for Fanatics." Ballard was unable to say what the other event was. But Newsom's name was dragged indirectly into the June 10 riot when it came out that the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice headed up the investigation, which was unusual because it does not typically conduct investigations.