City shuts down American Legion building after shooting

Published 7:42 pm Friday, March 5, 2010

A building owned by the American Legion Post 343 has been shut down following a Feb. 27 shooting.

Ernie R. Rogers, 47, faces charges of assault in connection with the incident that happened last Saturday night. One victim was transported to Chilton Medical Center with minor injuries.

Clanton Police Chief Brian Stilwell said his department has received numerous complaints about activities at the building on English Street.

The post leases the building for events, and members weren’t aware how rowdy some of the parties had become, Stilwell said.

“The problem for us is not the American Legion – it’s whoever is leasing the building from them,” Stilwell said.

Clanton police and fire departments, as well as state fire marshals, have ordered the building closed until several repairs are made.

Violations cited in closing the building were: no smoke detector, only one exit, no fire extinguishers, multiple electrical issues, blocked exits, unlighted exits and more.

Stilwell said the American Legion has been cooperative in the matter and want to comply with the building regulations.

“I don’t believe they were aware of some of the issues they were having,” Stilwell said. “We’re not after the American Legion – they do good things.”

The chief said he hopes the building can reopen and be used for its intended purpose.

“It’s not a nightclub; it’s supposed to be for weddings, birthdays,” Stillwell said.

Efforts to reach American Legion members were unsuccessful Friday afternoon.

Stilwell also expressed regret that something was not done before the shooting.

“I want to extend my apologies to the West End community for not addressing these complaints sooner,” said Stilwell. “To the family that was most affected by these problems, I am sorry, and I know we let you down, but I hope we have taken a step in the right direction to fix this issue.”

The chief also thanked the West End Neighborhood Watch, the Clanton Fire Department and the State Fire Marshal’s Office for their assistance.