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Ward 6 Councilmember (and mayoral candidate) Tommy Wells has softened on his call to shutter Fur and Ibiza. Now he’s saying that the clubs should be permitted to stay open—-if they clean up their act.

Early Monday morning, two cars sped by a large gathering outside the Tyler House apartments on North Capitol Street NW and sprayed the crowd with bullets, leaving 13 people injured. At least some of the victims had just returned from Fur and Ibiza, two nightclubs located a couple of blocks away. In response, Wells called for the clubs to be closed in the name of public safety.

That was not a popular idea.

After taking a lashing on Twitter for targeting two businesses with no demonstrated connection to Monday’s shootings, Wells now sounds a little remorseful. “Maybe I’m overreacting,” he says. He says the clubs should be allowed to stay open if they show more responsibility for the health and safety of their patrons when they leave the club. “They have to work with the community… and they have to show to all of us that they can keep their patrons safe when they leave there.”

Police have not yet demonstrated a clear relationship between either nightclub and Monday’s drive-by shooting, and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier has not moved to shut down either spot. “I don’t know for a fact that Fur was directly involved with the dispute, but I do know for a fact that that is where the victims had just walked home from,” says Wells.

Asked whether he plans to speak publicly about the issue again, Wells says, “I don’t think so. I really responded initially very quietly.” But when the issue started blowing up on Twitter, he chose to respond: “I’m not sure that that was the right thing to do. But people felt like I was not paying attention, so I started [talking] publicly about it.” Now, he’s leaving the job to the police, and he doesn’t seem so concerned about the clubs’ interests. “My highest priority is protecting the residents. … Where the clubs fall into that is where they fall into that.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery