At 3:15 a.m. on Friday, June 6, two young males were shot in front of the “Karma” nightclub, licensed Marcia Restaurant, at 1907 White Plains Road.
Upon arrival of the NYPD, the individuals were rushed to Jacobi Medical Center. Unconfirmed reports speculate one of boys was shot in the knee with a bullet grazing the other’s head.
The night was a frightful ordeal for the local residents, who recalled low flying helicopters and throngs of scantily clad club goers screaming and running in all directions, through front and backyards.
“They came out of the club in droves, and then we heard the yelling, arguing and then two pops, and five more soon after,” said Donna Chiodi, a longtime Hunt Avenue homeowner. “I called the police already because of the commotion, and then I called again after the shots.”
The following evening, the club was again open for business. Neighborhood residents said there was the usual boisterous activity – yelling, alleged drug use and public urination in homeowners’ yards. They added illegal parking in driveways and in front of fire hydrants has also become an issue.
Locals have been fighting to close the establishment since Community Board 11 rejected owner Marcia Bridgett’s request to open a “restaurant” that operated from 11 p.m. until 4 a.m. last November.
Senator Jeff Klein took a lead in fighting the request in Albany, and met with the commissioner of the State Liquor Authority seeking a solution.
“We’re looking to close down the establishment,” Klein said. “They are not operating the premises as they said they would. This could be cause for revocation.”
Bridgett must appear before an SLA hearing on June 25 in Manhattan. If she refuses to plead to a number of charges, the liquor license will be revoked, according to SLA regulations.
She is charged with using the name “Karma” in connection with the licensed business without permission of the Authority, as well as having opaque glass covering windows and doors.
According to local residents, Karma operates as a dance club without the requisite cabaret license required to run such an establishment.
Located in a primarily low to medium density residential area, across from a mosque and one-family homes, neighbors continue to complain.
“With hundreds of drunk teenagers at 4 o’clock in the morning, what do you expect,” Ali Salhab, member of board of the Bronx Muslim Center, said. “We’re not against people having fun, having a good time, and even if they want to drink, but this out of control.”
Salhab explained that the mosque is relatively new to the neighborhood, and many families that attend have purchased homes in the immediate area.
“They’ve made a life here, becoming part of this community along with other residents who have lived her for 40, 50 years,” he said. “But now you have talk of selling their houses, which would be a big loss for the mosque and the community.”
Councilman Jimmy Vacca met with Hunt Avenue residents about their concerns Saturday, June 7, to take immediate action.
“There have been meetings with the owner and I’m not interested in meeting anyone anymore,” Vacca griped. “This is a police matter and a matter for the SLA. The quality of life in that community deteriorated since that establishment opened. We want the law enforcement agencies to do what they need to do.”
Luis Santiago, a 17-year Morris Park homeowner said he’s seen and smelled drugs in front of Karma. He’s concerned for the safety of his neighbors and outraged at the lack of the establishment’s community consideration.
“I’m worried that it’s going to take a bullet killing a child to stop this,” he said. “I want an apology, because we’ve been fighting this for so long, and it’s not right.”