Nightclubs boost security

Next Level reopens tonight

Following a deadly shooting inside a Grand Cayman nightclub last week, some night time hotspots are cracking down on patrons’ dress and are vowing more stringent security measures.

The move comes after Carlo Webster, 35, was gunned down on the dance floor at the Next Level early Thursday morning. Another man was injured after what witnesses reported as two or three gunshots went off inside the club around 1.30am.

The second man was expected to recover from his wounds.

Royal Cayman Islands Police officers arrested two men on Thursday night in connection with the Next Level shooting, and nabbed a third man Friday. None had been charged at press time, but all three remained in lock up.

Police and club security were unable to say how a gun made it into the establishment. Patrons at the Next Level are subjected to searches at the front door with both metal detector wands and full body pat-down techniques.

However, some frequent club-goers said after the shooting that they had previously not been searched upon entering the Next Level.

Nightclub owner Harry Lalli said he was reviewing security measures over the weekend and that those attending the Next Level tonight could expect strict enforcement of searches as well as some new dress code measures.

Mr. Lalli said women would only be allowed small clutch bags, not full-sized purses, for instance. Those wearing particularly baggy clothing might also find themselves barred from the club.

Also, he said the music and themes for some of the club nights would change.

‘I needed the weekend to put everything together,’ Mr. Lalli said.

Asked if he would retain his current security firm, Mr. Lalli said ‘no comment.’

There were at least 10 security personnel inside and outside the Next Level when Thursday’s shooting occurred. Eight video cameras inside the club and four outside were believed to be in good working order.

Police are reviewing footage shot by the cameras.

RCIPS officials have been after Grand Cayman nightclubs for years to improve security, particularly last year, which saw a sharp increase in violent incidents in and around bars and dance halls.

However, in this instance, police said the Next Level appeared to have taken all necessary precautions.

‘The security at the Next Level is particularly good,’ said RCIPS Chief Inspector Peter Kennett. ‘(Security) clearly wasn’t tight enough because a weapon was fired inside a nightclub, which is deplorable. But, there is no such thing as total security. I think the club themselves took every precaution.’

It’s an issue that LI nightclub co-owner John Watler is taking to heart.

The day after the shooting, LI implemented new dress code measures, including not allowing women to carry purses, not allowing shorts and preventing men wearing extremely baggy pants and long ‘T-skirts’ (shirts that reach to the knees) to enter.

‘We did that (Thursday) night,’ Mr. Watler said. ‘People had no problem with it. Some people said they were glad (we) were doing it.’

Mr. Watler admitted that he had wanted to put such measures in place before, but was afraid that if he did patrons would simply go to other clubs.

Thursday’s shooting served as a wake-up call, he said.

‘Everyone in Cayman knows who the troublemakers are,’ Mr. Watler said. ‘So, there will be some profiling (at the door).’