CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY

TIERRA DOMINICANA BAR
2224 Federal Street

The Tierra Dominicana Bar was known as the U-Needa-A Cafe and was a fixture on Federal Street in East Camden for over 50 years. In the mid-1990s the bar was sold, and was known as the Obsession Lounge for a few years. As the Obsession Lounge, the bar began to attract an unsavory element, and was the site of several arrests and a murder, which led to the bar eventually changing hands. Shortly after a January 31, 2002 shooting outside of the bar, it was sold again, and as of this writing in September of 2003 is known as the Tierra Dominicana Bar, and caters to the community in Camden that hails from the Dominican Republic. In July of 2004, a double murder occurred in the bar, and Mayor Faison announced her intention to see the bar's license be permanently revoked.

TIERA DOMINICANA BAR - SEPTEMBER 2003

Camden Courier-Posy - Saturday July 17, 2004

2 Slain in Camden Nightclub

At least three wounded in shooting

By JASON NARK and LAVINIA DeCASTRO
Courier-Post Staff
CAMDEN

In a spate of pre-dawn violence, two men were killed and three or four other people were wounded early Friday by gunfire in a crowded dance club near 23rd and Federal streets, authorities said.

Dinell Reid, aka Darnell E. Fletcher, 27, of the 1200 block of Jackson Street, was found dead inside the Tierra Dominicana nightclub shortly after 2 a.m. Friday, said Camden County Prosecutor Vincent P. Sarubbi.

Lennox Chambers, 20, of the 1900 block of 46th street in Pennsauken, died a short time later at Cooper University Hospital.

A 22-year-old woman, an 18-year-old woman and a 28-year-old man were taken to Cooper with injuries that were not life-threatening.

A short time later, Camden officers found a man on Eutaw Avenue who had been shot. Detectives are trying to determine whether the man, who is expected to survive, was injured in the nightclub shooting, Sarubbi said.

With the deaths of Reid and Chambers, Camden has had 32 homicides this year, one more than this time last year. There have been six in nine days.

There were three other shootings in the city early Friday morning. Police identified the victims as:

Anthony Saulters, 24, who was shot in the leg during an attempted robbery at 2:38 a.m. at Kenwood and Bradley avenues.

  • Karl Thornton, 33, who was shot in the leg at Haddon Avenue and Mechanic Street at approximately 2:50 a.m.

  • William Foster, 33, who was shot in both legs near Baird Boulevard and Rand Avenue at about 3:25 a.m.

Motives for the three shootings were unknown, but they do not appear related to the nightclub shootings, police said.

The club was closed Friday and its liquor license suspended pending the criminal investigation, Sarubbi said. "It is standard operating procedure."

Friday afternoon, two police cruisers were outside the bar. The entrance was blocked with police tape. Visible through an open front door were an overturned stool and a trail of blood from the bar to the sidewalk.

"This is not the first time," said neighborhood resident Lidia Munes of the sound of gunshots at the nightclub. "It doesn't let you sleep."

Munes, who lives in an apartment above a store just a few feet from the club, said she heard the shots and saw a wounded woman stumble out of the bar. "Every Thursday, this happens," she said.

An officer patrolling the area a block away heard gunshots at 2:04 a.m., Sarubbi said. He saw several people rushing out the door and heard more shots from inside, Sarubbi said.

Officers arrested a man a short distance from the club on charges of possessing a handgun. It is unclear whether the man or the weapon were involved in the shootings, Sarubbi added.

The names of the people who were injured at the nightclub and the man who was arrested were being withheld because some family members have not been notified and several of the individuals may be potential witnesses, Sarubbi said.

Investigators may need to interview approximately 100 people who were at the nightclub Friday morning, Sarubbi said.

The nightclub has a history of violence, authorities say. Two fatal shootings in 2002 stemmed from incidents at the club when it was called Obsession Lounge.

On the night of Jan. 31, 2002, Alexander Velazco, 23, was killed after a fight outside the Obsession Lounge, Sarubbi said. On Feb. 25, 2002, Jose Domingo Surel-Perez was fatally shot near Federal and Flannery streets after getting into an argument with two people at the bar.

Mayor Gwendolyn Faison said she called the New Jersey State Alcohol Control Bureau to request an emergency meeting to determine whether the club can be deemed a nuisance and have its liquor license revoked.

"We are working too hard here in Camden, we cannot afford to tolerate these types of clubs," Faison said.

"We unequivocally consider two homicides and three shootings to be a nuisance," Sarubbi said.

The owner of the property could not be reached for comment Friday.

Lesbia Marroquin, who works at a jewelry store across the street from Tierra Dominicana, said she often sees drug dealers near the club, which is open until 2 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. "We need more police around here," Marroquin said.

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 17, 2004

Camden Club Shooting Leaves
2 dead, 3 hurt



Inquirer Staff Writer

Lorng Meng heard four gunshots shortly after 2 a.m. yesterday. She was afraid of what she might see if she peered through her window that faces the nightclub across the street.

Another shot rang out.

"I heard a woman screaming," said Meng, who lives above the Red Circle Discount Liquor Store on Federal Street in East Camden. "I peeked out. It was chaos."

Dozens of people were fighting their way out of the Tierra Dominicana, knocking each other down, climbing over one another, Meng said, trying to flee through the club's narrow door. One man lay dead on the club's dance floor. Another had collapsed inside, mortally wounded. Three other people nursed wounds in a parking lot adjacent to Tierra Dominicana, at the intersection of 24th and Federal Streets.

Meng said a police cruiser pulled up just seconds after she finished dialing 911.

Inside the club, police found Darnell E. Fletcher, 27, of Camden, dead of gunshot wounds. Another man, Lennox Chambers, 20, of Pennsauken, was rushed to Cooper University Hospital, where he died a short time later, said Camden County Prosecutor Vincent P. Sarubbi.

The slayings are the 31st and 32d of 2004. There were 31 homicides at this time last year, Sarubbi said. Two women, ages 18 and 22, and another man, 28, were also shot. Their wounds were said to be "not life-threatening," according to Sarubbi. Detectives are investigating whether another shooting victim, discovered nearby, had been injured in the nightclub shooting as well.

Authorities shuttered the club pending an investigation, and Mayor Gwendolyn Faison said she would seek to have its license permanently revoked.

"We cannot afford to tolerate this kind of nuisance in our city," Faison said. "And we will not tolerate anything that will hinder turning this city around."

Yesterday afternoon, disco lights inside the club continued to flash, illuminating a smeared trail of blood that snaked from the bar, through the entrance, and onto the sidewalk. The club had been hosting a "Ladies Night" on Thursday evening. A banner still hanging over the front door yesterday announced "First 20 Ladies Free."

"This particular location has a history of violence," Sarubbi said.

In early 2002, two people were slain in separate incidents when the same building housed Obsessions Lounge, Sarubbi said. 

Meng said she often hears gunfire coming from the club, "especially during holidays and festivals." A man died on her doorstep after being shot outside the club in 2002, Meng said, and the number of shootings has increased since the club changed hands two years ago.

"I hear shots and 99 percent of the time it's from that club," she said. "If they were to check for guns at the door, it wouldn't happen."

Shortly after the shootings, police arrested a man nearby and charged him with possession of a handgun. Sarubbi said it was unclear whether the man was involved in the shootings.

Anyone who has information is asked to call the Camden County Prosecutor's Office Homicide Unit at 856-225-8400 or Camden detectives at 856-757-7420.

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