Birmingham councilors speak out after deadly Foxx Trap shooting

City councilors Steven Hoyt, Johnathan Austin, Sheila Tyson and Valerie Abbott held a press conference Monday morning outside of the Foxx Trap. Source: Clare Huddleston/WBRC
City councilors Steven Hoyt, Johnathan Austin, Sheila Tyson and Valerie Abbott held a press conference Monday morning outside of the Foxx Trap. Source: Clare Huddleston/WBRC
Steven Hoyt holds up police reports from the 201 previous instances at the Foxx Trap. Source: Clare Huddleston/WBRC
Steven Hoyt holds up police reports from the 201 previous instances at the Foxx Trap. Source: Clare Huddleston/WBRC
The Foxx Trap. Source: WBRC
The Foxx Trap. Source: WBRC

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham city councilors called a press conference on Monday morning outside of the Foxx Trap nightclub, two days after a security officer was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer.

The press conference opened with a moment of silence for the individuals who were killed at the Foxx Trap and other areas in the city over the weekend.

Security officer Jonathan Asuzu was killed at the Foxx Trap early Saturday morning and Birmingham police officer Keary Hollis was shot to death in Ensley while off duty on Saturday night.

The Birmingham city council voted last week to revoke the business license for the Foxx Trap, but a judge granted the strip club a temporary restraining order which allowed it to be open over the weekend.

"We made a decision on Tuesday that we needed to close this establishment down because we thought the threat of someone losing their life was imminent," council president Johnathan Austin said at the 10 a.m. news conference.

Austin said as a council, they do their best to be fair to Birmingham businesses, but when they heard the evidence of 201 police incidents - including seven shootings and underage drinking - councilors agreed it was best for everyone's safety to close the Foxx Trap for good.

"Unfortunately, a judge did not agree with us initially and granted the business a temporary restraining order to stay open over the weekend," Austin said.

In the wake of the deadly shooting, the judge will revisit the temporary restraining order in a hearing set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 13.

Councilor Steven Hoyt said there seemed to be a communication gap between the city's legislative system and the judicial system for Jefferson County. He said he didn't want to blame anyone, but wondered if the judge was not privy to the same information the council had when they voked to revoke the club's license.

"We can't legislate morals and values, but we can legislate how one runs a business ... We're not here to cut out commerce, but commerce cannot be at the expense of quality of life," Hoyt said.

Hoyt called the shooting at the Foxx Trap a tragedy, and said he knew the security officer who was shot and killed. He said the young man grew up in his church and he had a chance to mentor him.

"When someone gets killed, it's not just the person that's been taken away from this life, but I look at the lives of those persons who are left behind," Hoyt said.

City councilwoman Sheila Tyson said she was saddened by the Foxx Trapp shooting, which happened in her district.

"Very sad about the whole thing, I don't know what to say. It's just been a weekend of violence, and it's Mother's Day weekend, it should have been a weekend of peace. Very disturbing to me and the constituents in Birmingham for this type of violence to happen within a two day period," she said.

Toward the end of the press conference, Austin announced the creation of an initiative to reduce crime, called TEXACO: Taking no Exceptions to crime, X-ing All Crime Out.

TEXACO will include a gun buy-back program and a public safety network. It will first focus on high-crime areas, then spread throughout Birmingham, Austin said.

Austin said they will continue to look for innovative ways to fight crime in the city. He mentioned increasing lighting infrastructure, providing better technology, resources and tools for police officers and adding surveillance cameras in high-crime areas.

The press conference ended around 10:30 a.m. as councilors reminded the public to keep the families of those killed in their prayers.

"I think all of these families desire prayers from this city," Hoyt said.

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