shooting_nighttime.jpgA San Francisco salsa club that has been the scene of multiple shootings in recent years, including one inside the club earlier this month, has decided it will not host some music promoters anymore.

“Predominantly, I would say, the hip-hop genre,” said Rhush Wanigatunga, general manager of Cafe Cocomo, a Potrero Hill venue where a 23-year-old male patron was shot in the early morning of Oct. 9.

The man survived the shooting, but another shooting outside the club in March 2005 left one man dead and five others injured. Two other people were grazed by gunfire outside the club in September 2009.

“We’re trying to reduce the probability of someone having a weapon coming to an event here,” said Wanigatunga, who stressed that his decision was “not just targeted at hip-hop.”

“We do salsa here…that’s what’s working here for us, and that’s what we’re going to stick to,” he said. He said the club would continue to rent out space to promoters for occasional events.

The Oct. 9 shooting occurred during a hip-hop event organized by an outside promoter. Police are still investigating the incident.

The San Francisco Entertainment Commission imposed a three-day suspension on the club immediately following the shooting and has since required the club to provide additional security measures “that are more specific and are very clear,” said Jocelyn Kane, the commission’s acting director.

“We are taking this as seriously as the law allows,” Kane said.

Wanigatunga has also changed security companies, though he insisted the previous company followed proper procedures and did not “lose control” of the event.

“But when an incident like this happens, people like to see some kind of change,” he said.

Kane said her commission would continue to take swift action against clubs where violence or other problems occur.

She maintained that of all the clubs in the city, only “tiny percentages” are truly problem venues.

Gun violence, Kane noted, is a rising problem throughout the country.

“It’s a societal problem, and as we are given better tools to fix them, I think we’re doing a good job,” she said.

In November 2009, the Entertainment Commission was given greater authority to impose limited suspensions on clubs.

Additional powers to revoke a club’s entertainment permit were approved by the city this year in the wake of a fatal shooting on Feb. 7 outside Suede, a Fisherman’s Wharf-area club that has since been closed.

Another fatal shooting took place on July 11 outside Jelly’s, a restaurant and dance cafe at Pier 50. The club is currently fighting eviction proceedings and remains open.

Recently proposed legislation in the city would require promoters to register with the city. It would allow the Entertainment Commission to track problem promoters and take action against them and the clubs that rent space to them, including imposing additional security requirements, liability insurance and criminal background checks.

Ari Burack, Bay City News

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