Club's neighbors call for peace; owner says it's safe

Club's neighbors call for peace; owner says it's safe

READING, Pa. - The battle lines are being drawn between a neighborhood and a popular nightclub in Reading.

Graphic fights outside the Jet Set Restaurant were caught on camera, and residents said they feel like prisoners inside their own homes because of the continued violence.

"You know some nights I can't even sit on my steps because I don't know what's going to go on," said Warren Hinton, who lives across from the club. "One night I had to pull my wife off the bed because we heard gunshots."

Sirens blaring and a sea of flashing lights are part of the nightclub chaos that has become a constant sight in the street near the Jet Set on South 9th Street.

"It's terrifying, I have a pregnant wife and two young kids.  It's terrifying to be in a place where this violence is happening almost every week," said Darryl Cruz, who has lived on the block for years.

Exclusive surveillance video obtained by 69 News captured the violence as a brutal brawl erupted in the street nearly three weeks ago. You could see a guy fall to the ground and then he's punched and kicked repeatedly as security guards try to break it up.

In 2012, the violence turned deadly. Jose Rivera, 27, was killed after being shot in a parking lot near the Jet Set.

"I don't feel safe here," said Juan Lopez, who added he keeps his kids away from the windows at night fearing a bullet could come in at any moment.

"There's guns and knives and people just pushing up against our cars," said Cruz, who found his car scratched nearly end to end outside his home.

When 69 News reached out to the club's owner, Rafael Abreu, he defended his business.

"Do you think this place is safe and secure?" 69 News asked.

"Yes, for sure," replied Abreu.

The Jet Set turns into a nightclub on the weekends. The club has metal detectors, cameras and a dress code. The club holds about 400 to 500 people, but many times people drink too much and they can't control what happens outside, said Abreu.

"Sometimes they're having a good time inside, but when the people are leaving they make a little noise and I feel very bad about my neighbors," said Abreu.

Abreu said whenever an incident happens he notifies police right away.

Reading police confirmed the club is on their radar. They have responded several times for assaults and have made arrests before. The chief said they patrol the area, especially when they know a special event is scheduled.

The Berks County district attorney wouldn't confirm if any investigation is going on.

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