Valley bar urged to make changes after recent incidents

Local News

VALLEY, Ala. — Early Saturday morning, Lee County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a shooting call at the Rhythm and Blues Sports Bar in Valley.

When deputies arrived, they found 26-year-old, Michael Benford of Opelika with a gunshot wound to the hip. Witnesses said that Benford and another man got into an argument, and the man pulled a gun from his pocket and shot Benford.

Benford was taken to East Alabama Medical Center where he is expected to recover from his injury.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said that even though Benford is choosing not to prosecute, the sheriff’s office is still looking into the matter since this is not the first incident at the facility. Sheriff Jones said that since Sept. 1, there have been 14 incidents with a total of 24 victims at the bar. Incidents have ranged from shooting into an unoccupied vehicle or dwelling, possession of marijuana, fights and more. In February, there was an incident at the bar where a man was shot, and another man struck with a bottle.

Sheriff Jones said if the bar does not make some changes, the bar could be shut down.

“There is a possibility that the business could be shutdown based on the unsafe environment and certainly violation of different rules that are in place by state law for the operation of an establishment that has a liquor license,” Sheriff Jones said. “We’re certainly taking a very close look at that.”

Sheriff Jones added that the office is very concerned from a public safety standpoint, not only for patrons, but those living nearby.

Lance Breedlove lives near the bar with his kids.

“We’ll be outside about 7 o’clock at night, and she’ll be jumping around on the trampoline and gunshots go off, and she’ll be out there playing around and go “pow, pow, pow,” Breedlove said. “I go to sleep normally on Friday, Saturday nights about 4 o’clock in the morning just to make sure nothing is going on.”

Sheriff Jones added that the sheriff’s office is compiling evidence that could be used for a possible hearing in front of the Alabama Beverage Control Board regarding the facility.

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