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Sister of Man Slain Outside East Village Nightclub Sin Sin Confronts Owner

By Patrick Hedlund | September 22, 2010 12:09pm

By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

EAST VILLAGE — The sister of man who was fatally shot outside the Sin Sin nightclub last month confronted the owner of the controversial club Tuesday night during a heated police meeting.

Devin Thompson, 43, was gunned down in the early-morning hours after leaving the club on Second Avenue and East 5th Street, and his siblings said Tuesday that the club should have done more to stop violent conflicts like the one that killed him.

“What have you done to prevent this from happening to someone else's family?" Asia Thompson, 42, asked Sin Sin owner Phillip Quilter at Tuesday night's meeting of the NYPD's Ninth Precinct Community Council.

"Maybe my brother would still be alive if you did," Thompson added, excoriating Quilter for failing to have metal detectors outside the club at the time of her brother's death.

Devin Thompson and his assailants were both inside the club before the shooting occurred, police said. His sister suggested that metal detectors could have stopped the killers, who remain unidentified and at large.

Thompson, who was joined by her sister Makeba Thompson, 41, was one of many critics of the nightclub at the meeting who railed against the club's penchant for attracting noise and violence.

After Asia Thompson asked the owner of the bar to identify himself, Quilter turned around in his seat at the meeting, looked at her and her sister and apologized for the incident.

Quilter explained that his club has since taken measures to limit crowds by changing the nightspot's programming and using hand-held metal detectors to scan patrons.

There were more than 100 attendees at the standing-room-only meeting, most of whom were there to complain about the ongoing situation at Sin Sin. Critics have compained for years about the violent disturbances they say have plagued East Fifth Street.

"We all knew somebody was going to get killed," said block resident Hayes Greenfield. "The bar should be shut down. … somebody's got to do something about this."

NYPD officials said their hands are tied because the club is currently fully licensed and operating legally.

"You're talking about something that's beyond our scope," said Ninth Precinct Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lehr, stressing that more people need to call 911 when observing possible criminal activities related to the club.

Over the past year, police have been called to the address at least three separate times in response to complaints of drug use and prostitution outside the location, but all the reports ultimately proved unfounded, NYPD sources said.

The city's 311 hotline has also received more than 70 complaints regarding Sin Sin/Leopard Lounge since the start of 2009, according to figures from Community Board 3.

Lehr said that police regularly patrol outside of Sin Sin, but added that they are also responsible for monitoring hundreds of other nightclubs in their precinct on a nightly basis.

"For the amount of people that come into this neighborhood, it's amazingly safe," Lehr said.

That reply didn't sit well with residents who expressed frustration over what they see as a "Wild West" atmosphere that pervades the area, with Sin Sin patrons allegedly showing disregard for the neighborhood because they don't live there.

"I think the family of the person killed would like something more than 'We'll try,'" said East Fifth Street resident Louise Millmann, addressing both police and the club's owner. "The murder really rattled this neighborhood."