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First charges filed in weekend brawl - KOAM TV 7

First charges filed in weekend brawl

Updated:

Reports of fighting overnight Saturday at what Joplin police are calling an illegal liquor establishment brought every officer on duty to the scene.

The weekend arrests followed investigations by police over several weeks.

The incident took place at a location commonly referred to as "The Surge."

Neighbors say there's no question parties with liquor regularly took place there.

On Sunday police decided they had enough and pushed for answers to build a case in court.

Police say the situation in front of 1202 South Wall shortly after midnight on Sunday morning was chaotic.

"Numerous fights started breaking out in the street and in the area," says Cpl. Chuck Niess of the Joplin Police Department.

All 20 Joplin officers on duty responded.

Those officers requested back up from outside agencies but before the extra help arrived the situation was brought under control by police on scene.

Seventeen people were arrested in and around the area of the building.  Charges pending range from assault to underage drinking.

Police say they've been receiving calls about this property for months.

"This time they were actually stopping people that were leaving and saying 'how much to enter' and people leaving were saying 'well it's $5 to get in and $3 for a beer,'" says Cpl. Niess.

Police say the owners of the building have no business or liquor licenses.

"In the last few weeks we have filed complaints against a few minors who had not necessarily been inside the establishment, but had been in the parking lot or general area," says city prosecutor Tricia Gould.

Several business owners in the area did not want to be interviewed on camera for fear people partying there would break into their property.  But off camera, business owners said several trash dumpsters have been full of alcohol containers.

One of those arrested was Jeremy Latham.  Police say he's an operator of this illegal club and they'll do what they can to keep him from reopening.

The city's prosecuting attorney has official filed charges of failure to operate without a liquor and business license against Latham.

Police say a number of those arrested for fighting are students at MSSU.

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