Turn off the Heat

Turn off the Heat
Diaz Sr. leads a group in prayer outside of Heat. Photo by Patrick Rocchio

The vicious murder of a young mother caught in a crossfire outside of a Hunts Point strip club has Community Board 2 and many others calling for the suspension of its liquor licence.

About 70 members of the community came together on Friday, March 2 for a protest outside Heat Bar & Lounge, which is located at 405 Hunts Point Avenue and was shut down for around a week after the NYPD violated the club for using unlicensed security guards on Tuesday, January 24. The club was fined $5,000 on Monday, February 27 and allowed to reopen, Community Board 2 district manager Rafael Salamanca Jr. said.

Wearing t-shirts that said “We are Monique Rodriguez,” family members of the 33-year-old mother of three who was gunned down in a shoot out on the street in front of the club on December 11, 2011, during an altercation that she was not involved in, according to Salamanca, railed against the club and demanded that its liquor licence be suspended.

The group, chanting “shut off the heat,” was joined by Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Salamanca, Community Board 2 chairman Dr. Ian Amritt, Community Board 2 first vice-chairman Roberto Crespo, and Hunts Point Chamber of Commerce founder and executive director Josephine Infante.

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is concerned that Heat was allowed to reopen. It was shuttered for a week, paid a fine for unlicensed security guards and agreed to provide a list of licensed security guards working there to the 41st Precinct, according to sources.

“I join together with members of Bronx Community Board 2, local elected officials, and the family of Mrs. Monique Rodriguez in opposition to the outcome of the Heat strip club’s recent court appearance,” Diaz Jr. stated. “The Heat strip club is not only putting their patrons and employees in danger, but also the community surrounding it.”

The club should not have been given the opportunity to reopen, under the name Heat or any other name, Diaz Jr. stated. Diaz Sr. has written a letter to the State Liquor Authority calling for revocation of Heat’s licence, and led the group in a prayer outside of the club. Community Board 2 plans on opposing any liquor license renewals for any strip clubs on the Hunts Point peninsula, Salamanca stated.

Since opening in October 2011, there was also another incident outside of the club in which two people were shot and one stabbed on or about Saturday, January 21.

The owners of the club have not provided a letter to Community Board 2 acknowledging a number of suggestions that the board made about increasing security and lighting at Club Heat as of March 2, Salamanca said.

According to Franklin Flores, Monique Rodriguez’s husband, she had been at Heat to support her cousin who was promoting a new album and was leaving the club, he said. She got out of the car when she heard the shots, looking for her brother Danny, who is confined to a wheelchair and was supposed to get into the car, when she was shot. “She was shot accidently and didn’t have problems with anyone,” Flores said. “The fight didn’t involve her.”

While the culprits in her death have not yet been apprehended, it was announced at the March 2 rally that the NYPD has put up a $2,000 reward for her assailants. Additional reward money may be available from another source, it was announced at the rally.

Calls placed to Heat’s location and to the cell phone of the owner of Heat, Miquel Orozco, did not go through because both lines were out of service.

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