East Cape Girardeau night club shooting raises concerns

Updated: May. 3, 2021 at 5:40 PM CDT
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EAST CAPE, Ill. (KFVS) - Three people were injured in a shooting in East Cape Girardeau, Illinois early Sunday.

Illinois State Police District 22 responded to a reported shooting at The Pony around 2:48 a.m. on Sunday, May 2.

ISP said three people were shot and taken to area hospitals.

Two of the victims were treated and released.

The other victim remained in the hospital with a non-life-threatening injury.

We reached out to Illinois State Police on Monday for the latest on the shooting.

Village leaders respond to residents’ concerns

Trooper Joshua Robinson said it’s an active and ongoing investigation.

Residents living near The Pony said that Sunday morning shooting sounded like a war zone.

Now, leaders in the small village must figure out how to make one of their only open businesses safer.

East Cape Village Trustee Jason Tubbs said he took several calls from concerned citizens.

“It’s really concerning for our citizens that the shooting happened,” he said. “We realize it’s a public concern, not so much The Pony issue because it did happen in the parking lot and on the city street. The fire was very rapid and it woke up all of our citizens. There were several calls to me in the middle of the night into the early hours of the morning, obviously.”

This isn’t the first time Tubbs and the rest of the Village Board faced concerns about shootings connected to The Pony.

“I like our residents to know that the Village leadership is going to work with The Pony to come up with a solution to this problem; again, we feel like it’s our issue as well, it’s our burden to bear,” he said.

After a rash of shootings tied to the club in 2014 and 2015, Tubbs said ownership did add more security and the sheriff’s office increased patrols, which worked for a while.

“With budget cuts and things that’s not been able to be done, and with the pandemic, of course I’m sure The Pony is having financial difficulties as well and they can’t just hire an outside security firm, but I mean we’re open to working with them to try and figure out a solution.

Tubbs said Village leaders are in contact with liquor license holder Garret Hamilton and club owner Jerry Westlund.

History of Westlund’s business dealings

Westlund’s dealings with the Village Board have not always been cordial.

In November 2014, Westlund was upset that the city attorney checked into his background.

At the time, the board remained divided, with half wanting more regulation over Westlund and the businesses he operated in East Cape.

Westlund battling it out with city leadership is nothing new.

He closed the Metro Pony in Metropolis after an expensive legal fight, and shut down the Pony Cabaret and Steakhouse in Carbondale after the city pulled his liquor license.

Tubbs said since his latest incident happened outside the club, they cannot simply call for the place to shut down; and then there’s the financial benefit of the business.

“The Village gets a nice cut of the Illinois gaming funds from there, so they actually do support our Village quite a bit,” he said. “There lies the problem, they’re helping us. We need to work with them and figure out a solution to the problem.”

Deadly crash on the bridge

We also asked if there was a connection between the shooting and the deadly crash on the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge that happened around the same time on Sunday morning.

He said it was also an active an ongoing investigation and to protect the integrity of both cases, they aren’t saying anything else right now.

If you have any information on the events that occurred, you can contact the ISP Division of Criminal Investigation Zone 7 at 618-845-3740 (Ext: 281)

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