The year 2015 had barely been ushered in when a fight broke out and shots were fired at the Heidi Ho Club on Columbus’ Southside, leaving one person dead and the club’s DJ facing a murder charge. It also leaves the City of Columbus with its first homicide of the year.
According to Columbus Police Department Com- mander of Investigations Brent Swan, the police re- ceived a call at approxi- mately 12:24 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 1 that someone had been shot inside the Heidi Ho Club at 106 22nd St. S.
“When officers arrived, they found 32-year-old Timothy Barker suffering from a gunshot wound lying in the parking lot,” Swan said. “Barker was transported by ambulance to Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle where he was later pronounced dead.”
According to Swan, Barker was shot as the result of a physical altercation with the club’s DJ, Billy Lee Kennedy, aka “DJ Rocca,” that began inside the nightclub. Kennedy was arrested at the scene. He appeared on Tuesday before Columbus Municipal Judge Marc Amos. Amos denied Kennedy bond. Kennedy was currently on bond at the time of his arrest for aggravated assault. He was charged with murder.
Barker is part of the Barker family that lives north of the Columbus Air Force Base. Although family members are for the most part remaining silent on his death, a person claiming to be related to Barker defended his cousin in a post on the Columbus Facebook Watch Group’s page.
Travis Barker posted the following: “I wish y’all would quit saying thug because my cousin wasn’t a thug, imagine how my family feeling while y’all trying to label things already we are in pain dang smh.”
Belle Funeral Home in Aberdeen is in charge of Barker’s funeral arrangements.
A Dangerous Place?
As word began to circulate about the shooting around social media outlets, including the Columbus Facebook Watch Group’s page, several people opined that the Heidi Ho Club should be shut down.
The club’s operator, Larry Golden, appeared at the Columbus City Council meeting Tuesday night, but the incident was not discussed by council members nor CPD Chief Tony Carleton.
After the meeting, Golden said he hoped his club would be allowed to stay open.
“This is the worst thing that’s happened at the club in the 12 years I’ve been at the club,” Golden said. “I want everyone to know how sorry I am that this happened. I plan on getting more security to have it inside and outside. I plan to double my security from two people to four. Please don’t close my business. It’s all that I have. I have children to take care of. I’m just a man trying to take care of his family.”
Golden said the club does not use wands or metal detectors, items which are commonly used at the Lowndes County Courthouse, City Municipal Complex and Golden Triangle Regional Airport.
With almost weekly arrests at the nightclub, some residents are asking if it’s a safe place for the public.
An off-duty female CPD police officer recently posted a comment on Facebook criticizing the Heidi Ho for being a dangerous place.
“I would never go to a place calling me a ‘ho.’ I have been beating these streets for over 19 years. I’ve checked this club hundreds of times. This is not a place for young ladies. I don’t feel safe with a bulletproof vest and my gun belt on without backup…”
And although some are calling for the club to be closed, City Attorney Jeff Turnage said it may not be a matter of a council vote.
“I don’t think we can revoke a business license on a council vote,” Turnage said. “I think the city could sue the club and determine it a nuisance and possibly shut it down that way.”
Policing The Area
Carleton said he is being forced to increase the CPD presence at the Heidi Ho Club, but he said he is hopeful the situation will soon change.
“The owner of the club told the Commercial Dispatch that he is thinking about getting out of his contract,” Carleton said. “We plan on talking to the operator and see what he can do to run a safer business. Until then, we are going to beef up our presence.”
According to Carleton, the club is using city resources as its security, but it is something he will continue to do.
“I’m not going to put up with this,” he said. “We are not the security force for the club, but we have had a murder there and we have to protect the citizens of Columbus. We never let an officer go there alone. And when we get a call about a fight or a shooting or a stabbing at the club, we have to send additional manpower. It takes away from patrolling other areas. It drains our resources. But it is our job to keep the area safe.”0