TV6 Investigates: The party problem in Déjà Vu’s parking lot
DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Since it opened its doors in 2020, Déjà Vu Showgirls has seemingly been a hotspot for locals looking to cause a raucous.
In October, police say 35-year-old Samuel Wires Jr. was shot and killed by Lance Johnson outside of the Déjà vu strip club on Grand Avenue in East Davenport.
Less than six months later on April 3, police responded to another call at the same spot, where they say they found a 33-year-old man with critical gunshot wounds.
Mike Matson, Davenport’s mayor, says the location is no coincidence.
“There are a certain few establishments that seem to be drawing attention lately; especially late in the evening, early in the morning,” said Matson, “we’re as concerned as anyone.”
Holly Johnson, the district manager of Déjà vu, agrees, saying, “the crime in that area is horrible.”
Since February 2020, Déjà vu has had 639 9-1-1 calls placed by and about the business.
Those call logs show the calls being placed almost every single day for two years at the location, sometimes multiple times a da, for anything ranging from a business welfare check, to assault, to weapons charges.
Déjà vu says the majority of those calls are directed at a group of people who have nothing to do with their business.
“Each time there has been an incident, it’s been a parking lot party,” said Johnson.
Parking lot parties, or social gatherings that take place in commercial parking lots, are a new phenomenon that started during the pandemic while businesses were shut down.
Déjà vu says it’s been a target ever since, bringing unwanted guests right outside their door, using their parking lot area as a space to party it up through the night without even coming inside.
“They take over the parking lot then they refuse to leave,” said Johnson. The only thing the business says has worked has been to put large strobe lights in the parking lot.
“They smell horrible, they make a lot of noise and they’re extremely bright,” Johnson said, “and they collect a lot of bugs and it makes it really uncomfortable to hangout in the parking lot.”
That, however, hasn’t fully stopped the party.
Davenport residents may recall the gathering back in June at the top of the Redstone Parking Garage downtown that resulted in gunshots taking out several windows of the Skybridge and Figge Art Museum.
By now, it’s been recognized by city leaders as a problematic trend. “It does seem that folks through social media are drawing attention to ‘lets get together somewhere’,” said Matson, “so where do you do that? Parking lots. Seems to be the thing now.”
According to Mayor Matson, the solution will be through a new bill called House File 2340, which is currently on its way the governor’s desk.
The bill will allow Iowa cities to sue alcohol serving businesses that they believe cause a threat to public safety. “That gives us something against establishments that are seeming to be more concerned about the dollar than safety,” said Matson.
Since Déjà vu is a BYOB business it is subject to the bill. However, they say the bill would bring an unfair penalty for something they are not promoting.
“Why are we punishing the business and not the criminals?” asked Johnson. “It’s important to know these aren’t our customers, [they are] not our guests.”
According to Johnson, Déjà vu has reached out to the police department multiple times about helping to shut the unwanted parking lot parties down. Instead of putting their heads together and finding a solution, she claims the city and police department have decided on one thing.
“It seems like the only thing they wanted us to do was close,” claimed Johnson.
For now it’s a waiting game to see how the city will combat Déjà vu, and the greater city of Davenport’s parking lot party problem.
“We’re going to execute some plans here shortly,” said Matson.
Tv6 reached out to the Davenport Police Department and the Mayor’s Office about Déjà Vu’s comments and have not received a response.
Stick with us as this story continues to develop.
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