Tim McGowan also sits on the board. His company, McGowan Brothers Development, has either developed or owns many of the properties surrounding Lure on Washington Avenue. One of them is Lucas Park Grille, where the 29-year-old was punched into a coma in May.

McGowan signed the petition against Lure six times. He did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment.

The Trupianos won a temporary restraining order against the partnership on August 13. They argued that a quasi-public body funded by local businesses, and set up to promote them, acted inappropriately by trying to shut one down. A few days later, however, a different judge lifted the order.

Aprille Trupiano, 43, owns Lure. Her younger brother, Nick, helps manage it.
Jennifer Silverberg
Aprille Trupiano, 43, owns Lure. Her younger brother, Nick, helps manage it.
The Washington Avenue strip on a Saturday night.
Jason Stoff
The Washington Avenue strip on a Saturday night.

The siblings' fight against the partnership may not be over, their attorney suggests.

"The actions of the partnership have opened themselves up to some defamation litigation," Bosley says.

Nevertheless, the petition file grew with dozens of signatures from nearby residents living in the Knickerbocker, Meridian and Lucas lofts.

Earl Westfall and his girlfriend, Jennifer Asher, own a loft directly above Lure on the sixth floor of the Jack Thompson Square building. Westfall had to nag the club's management for more than a year, he says, to lock their back door, so that patrons would stop loitering in the residential lobby. Music from the club has pounded hard enough to rattle a picture mounted on his wall.

"They're nice guys," he says. "But nothing ever gets done. Things got better for us when the media started paying attention. Because these issues [with their liquor license] have come up, we let people know all the dirt we see on a constant basis."

Jake Kraybill, an engineer who sits on the board of the Downtown St. Louis Residents Association, e-mailed his fellow loft-dwellers on the day of the triple shooting: "Whatever element is drawing these violent criminals downtown needs to be utterly destroyed."

But after a conversation the following day with Lure's management, Kraybill felt they had legitmate concerns of thier own. He urged compromise.

"Stay focused!" Westfall responded. "Did they buy you a beer? Did they give you free 'VIP' passes? This is how they operate."

"I assure you no one bought me any beer or gave me any kickbacks," Kraybill replied. In a different e-mail the next day, Kraybill wrote, "There is a group of people on the warpath to shut these clubs down. I believe they are doing this in a fashion that is lacking coherent thought."

On the morning of September 3, the Trupiano brothers and Lure manager Rob Olsen walked into the Kennedy Room of city hall wearing pin-striped suits. Nick and Tony also sported pinky rings bearing their initials.

Their widowed mother, Marlene Trupiano, sat at the center of the gallery in a leopard-print jacket, her rust-red hair teased up like a tidal wave. An entourage of Lure staff members surrounded her. News crews fussed with camera equipment on the left side of the room as a big group of police officers chatted on the right.

With the fate of Lure's liquor license in the balance, assistant city counselor Dan Emerson laid out the case against the club before municipal judge Margaret Walsh. Bosley, teaming up with attorney John Bouhasin, probed for weak spots.

Charge one: the assault-rifle episode. Emerson questioned Officer Timothy Bockskopf who authored the incident report, leading him through the night when his colleagues were shot at.

Bouhasin cross-examined the policeman, asking whether he personally witnessed anyone leaving Lure. The officer said no. Bouhasin inquired if the parking lot where the shots were fired could've been used by patrons of other bars. The officer said yes.

Then Bosley moved in for the takedown. According to the report, he pointed out, the initial officers on the scene were the ones asserting that the suspects had exited Lure. But from where they were standing, Bosley wondered, wouldn't it have been more or less impossible to witness anybody coming out of Lure?

Yes, Bockskopf replied.

The next charge didn't go quite as well for the Trupianos. Officer Julie Reynolds, looking very pregnant and at ease in capri sweatpants, waddled up to testify. Judge Walsh asked her to remove her chewing gum.

Reynolds said that at about 1:30 a.m. on a Friday in February she observed a woman swinging a baseball bat at another woman on the street in front of Lure. A second officer had to mace the young lady to calm her down. (Bystanders later informed RFT that the bat-wielding woman's shirt got ripped off in the melee, exposing her bosom to the winter night. She was arrested.) A third woman sat on the curb, Reynolds recalled, bleeding profusely from the head.

Sergeant Robert Berner also responded to that incident. He tried to enter the club but couldn't, he testified, because "it was so packed with people." He also noted a "strong odor of marijuana" emanating from inside.

The judge called for a short recess. When the hearing resumed, Emerson made an eyebrow-raising announcement: The city was withdrawing the next charge on the citation. The incident in question involved shots fired at Washington Avenue and Tucker Boulevard.

Lure wasn't even open that night.

« Previous Page
Next Page »