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Knitting Factory may open again this week

Spokane city officials could announce as early as this morning the decision to reinstate the entertainment license of the Knitting Factory after Police Chief Frank Straub closed the downtown concert venue Monday following two gang-related shootings that occurred after a recent concert.

Spokane City Attorney Nancy Isserlis said Straub and Knitting Factory CEO Greg Marchant have had “extraordinarily productive discussions” on increasing security at the venue.

Straub made the call Monday to yank the business license without consulting the city’s legal department, Isserlis said, after four people were injured in two separate shootings shortly after a concert ended at the Knitting Factory. One of those shootings took place in a parking lot near the concert venue; the other occurred more than mile away at 1712 N. Maple St.

Nevertheless, “in this particular circumstance, the police department made the right call,” Isserlis said of Straub’s decision.

“The police chief made the decision that there was imminent danger to public safety and suspended the license,” she said, noting city code provides that an entertainment license may be suspended or revoked under certain circumstances.

Straub said earlier this week that Marchant could appeal the suspension to the city hearing examiner within 20 days. Straub noted that it was the fourth security situation that occurred at or near the concert hall since the first of the year.

Straub was unavailable for comment Wednesday. The department has not announced any arrests in connection with the shootings.

Marchant also could not immediately be reached for comment.

In a statement issued earlier this week, however, Marchant noted that he was working with the police department but that it was difficult to control what might happen outside the venue after the concert had ended, which was the case early Monday morning.

Isserlis said city code requires venues, such as the Knitting Factory, to be responsible “and expected to exercise appropriate control over its customers, not only inside their establishment but also within the immediate vicinity” to prevent a nuisance to the “neighboring community.”

She said it’s not unlike the law that holds bars responsible if a bartender over-serves a patron who later causes a fatal car crash.

“The ordinance makes it clear that … they have some responsibility to make sure their patrons leave safely and don’t create a ruckus,” she said.

The concert Sunday night was a third-party rental event that was open to the public. Hosted by local nightlight group T.A.S.T.Y., the event was a Valentine’s Day dance featuring several disc jockeys.

Event Coordinator Drew Williams said earlier this week that the some 1,000 people attended and security staff reported no issues during the concert.