Hog Wild Saloon remains closed due to safety violations

Matthew Lane • Mar 8, 2018 at 5:30 PM

KINGSPORT — One week after a shooting claimed the life of a 20-year-old city man, the Hog Wild Saloon remains closed after inspectors discovered numerous safety code violations within the building.

In the early morning hours of March 2, Kingsport police report a 16-year-old male from Bristol, Va., shot and killed Brett D. Rodgers inside the Hog Wild saloon. The juvenile has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault.

Kingsport police this week asked other witnesses to the shooting to come forward in order to help with the investigation.

Code violations

Kingsport Fire Marshal Robert Sluss responded to the Hog Wild last Friday morning and immediately noticed several potential fire code violations. Two city building inspectors also went to the saloon at that time.

“I walked in and the first thing I noticed was a kerosene heater,” Sluss said. “We then went through the building and noticed some black plastic tarps put up to cordon off sections of the building where (the roof) was leaking. It was worse than I imagined.”

Other issues Sluss noted included:

— Water running into electrical fixtures.

— Numerous water damaged ceiling tiles.

— Portable kerosene heaters in public spaces.

— Gasoline containers inside the building.

— The sprinkler system had been shut off.

— Multiple trash cans, coolers and tubs set up to collect water leaking through the roof.

Because of these issues, in a joint decision by Sluss and the city’s electrical inspector, Kingsport pulled the power and the gas meter from the building.

“I met with the owners and told them when all of the violations are fixed, the roof is completely repaired, we’ll do another inspection and go from there,” Sluss said.

Under investigation

In addition to the Kingsport code violations, the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission has confirmed it has an active investigation regarding the Hog Wild Saloon — both the most recent incident as well as the history of problems related to the business.

Zach Blair, the assistant director of the TABC, said the investigation will allow the agency to determine what, if any, enforcement action will be taken. Consequences could be a citation, a license suspension or a revocation.

“I’m unsure when our investigation will be complete,” Blair said, adding that the results would be shared with the media.

Since March of 2013, Kingsport police have received 729 calls regarding Hog Wild Saloon, including 54 fights, 42 additional “disturbances,” 20 reports of reckless vehicles and 12 thefts.

Last week’s fatal shooting marks at least the third time in five months that firearms have been involved in an arrest at Hog Wild Saloon. According to police records previously obtained by the Times News, several brawls have recently occurred and shots have previously been fired.

Comments on the situation

“The primary focus right now is on the murder investigation. It’s too soon to say what action, if any, would occur in the future.” — David Quillin, Kingsport Police Chief

“It’s a place that needs to be safe like every other location in Kingsport. Whatever means we have available to us to help the facility become safer we should seriously consider it.” — Mayor John Clark

“I think there’s certainly a history there, but I think we have to follow due process. People are entitled to use their property. We also need to make sure it’s a safe environment and enforce all applicable laws.” — City Manager Jeff Fleming

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