Security video from inside Belltown's Tabella nightclub obtained by The Stranger shows that, contrary to witness claims cited in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's story on a Belltown shooting early Moday, July 2, the shooting was not preceded by a disturbance inside Tabella. The club, along with nearby Venom, has long been blamed for violence in Belltown; City Attorney Tom Carr has said he will seek to have Tabella's liquor license revoked the next time it is up for renewal. Tabella has also been used as a poster child for the mayor's nightlife-license proposal, which would give the city a new tool for shutting clubs down.
But Tabella attorney David Osgood says Belltown residents' anger is misplaced. He says Tabella—a club that has a largely black clientele—is being scapegoated because of the race of its patrons. "They're appealing to the wrong-color crowd, but you'll never hear anyone saying that out loud," Osgood says. "Watch what's said; watch what happens. The commonality is the color of the crowd."
The videotape shows no evidence at all of a disturbance inside the club. If anything, the crowd it shows is orderly in the minutes before the shooting. The tape shows security personnel patting patrons down for weapons before they enter the club; security at the exit can be seen encouraging patrons to disperse. When the shots ring out at 1:16 a.m., security staffers start letting people into the club from outside, but within 15 minutes, they've emptied the club out in a calm and orderly fashion. Nothing on the tape suggests that the shooting had anything to do with Tabella.
Recently, the Seattle Channel, accompanied by City Council Member Sally Clark, visited Tabella at closing time as part of a feature on downtown nightlife. The conclusion, as stated: Although Tabella was indeed rowdy right at closing time, "the rather aggressive security guards hired by the club made sure... the sidewalk was pretty much cleared" shortly after closing time, according to host C. R. Douglas. Clark, too, has said she was impressed by Tabella's security. In contrast, Pioneer Square clubs had to be cleared out by police, according to the same Seattle Channel broadcast.
"A shooting is good for no one's business—it's bad for businesses, bad for community relations, and bad all around," Osgood says.
With reporting by Rebecca Tapscott