UPDATED: Arrest in strip club killing

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Randolph Garner

One of three men who were shot during a deadly weekend gunfight in the parking lot of a South Knoxville strip club has been charged with murder.

The shootout at The Ball Gentlemen’s Club early Sunday morning left one man dead and two wounded, Knoxville Police Department officials said. 

Randolph Thomas Garner, 32 of Knoxville, was charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of Broderick Gipson, 36, also of Knoxville.

“At around 4 a.m. on Sunday, July 11, 2021, KPD officers responded to the Ball Gentlemen’s Club located at 3005 Alcoa Highway where Gipson was located in the parking lot suffering from a gunshot wound,” said department spokesperson Scott Erland. 

“Gipson was pronounced deceased on the scene. After officers arrived at the scene, it was reported that two additional individuals showed up at area hospitals with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds. One of those victims was 32-year-old Randolph Thomas Garner,” he continued.

“Through continued investigation, Garner was revealed as the primary suspect in Gipson’s murder. The warrant alleges that Garner brandished and fired a handgun during an altercation with the victim. As a result, the victim sustained a fatal injury and was pronounced deceased on scene by EMS personnel,” Erland said.

Garner was released from the hospital on July 11 and booked into the Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility on several outstanding warrants that were unrelated to the shooting. Once the murder warrant was obtained by investigators from the Major Crimes Unit, his bond was set at $150,000, according to the spokesperson.

Source: Yelp

Erland didn’t release any information about the third man who was struck by gunfire, how many people fired guns during the fray, or what types of firearms were used. 

 The building currently occupied by The Ball Gentlemen’s Club (which has “over 6,000 square feet of adult entertainment and sports bar,” according to its website) has stood in the same lot on Alcoa Highway for more than 30 years and has housed several other strip clubs. It’s not clear who the current owner is. 

Police were called to the club 25 times in the 12-month period before Sunday’s shooting, Erland said in a written reply to a request for a history of law enforcement actions at the nightspot.

“There isn’t much that really stands out,” he said. “The vast majority are simple assaults (6), lost property (3) and vandalisms (3). There was one aggravated assault from November 2020…that was a reported shooting, but nobody was struck. At least two vehicles were, though.”

When asked if that was an unusual number of calls for service, Erland said it didn’t strike him as excessive for a popular bar. 

“I wasn’t shocked by the number of reports,” he said. “There weren’t many major ones, just a lot of miscellaneous reports. If it was a whole bunch of shootings with victims, that would would obviously be different.”

Sunday’s shooting death was believed to be the first homicide to take place on club property. 

The club briefly make headlines across the country when a bouncer was wounded by an arrow loosed from some nearby woods in 2013. The bouncer speculated that he was targeted by a bow-and-arrow wielding “disgruntled customer” and credited his thick muscles for limiting the damage to his shoulder.

This year is on track to be the bloodiest since Knoxville began keeping crime statistics. Since Jan. 1, there have been at least 26 slayings in the city plus at least five more homicides in the unincorporated areas of Knox County under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s Office. 

There were 37 homicides in Knoxville in 2020, more than the previous high of 35 in 1998. At this time last year, there had been only 18 slayings.

J.J. Stambaugh can be reached at jjstambaugh@hardknoxwire.com 

Published on July 13, 2021