Bar Owner Faults Patrons Kicked Out Amid Tornado

He says they were 'too intoxicated to understand' they were in 'danger' behind 'wall-to-wall glass'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2019 8:16 AM CDT
Shop owners and workers walk through debris at a strip mall in Vicksburg, Miss., following severe weather on Saturday.   (Courtland Wells/The Vicksburg Post via AP)

(Newser) – The owner of a bar near Mississippi State University is defending his decision to kick out some 250 people as a tornado raged nearby. Bin 612 owner Ty Thames has weathered a storm of his own since ordering patrons out of the Starkville bar beginning around 9:45pm Saturday, as a tornado warning was issued. By 10pm, the National Weather Service reported the tornado was 9 miles away and would hit in less than 10 minutes, though it later lifted, per the Washington Post. "UNACCEPTABLE," reads a sample tweet, one of many suggesting Thames put people in danger. Thames says he only wanted to keep people safe. "It's basically wall-to-wall glass on the front and the back of the building" and "the only non-glass walls" are covered in glassware, he tells the Post. Yet "people were too intoxicated to understand they were in danger there."

Police said they were called as roughly 100 people tried to fight security, per the Clarion Ledger. A patron said security guards were literally pushing people out, and one was "yelling and swearing." Thames says he'll hire new security guards, but adds they were only trying to usher people to an underground parking garage 50 feet away, per the Commercial Dispatch. Thames says 15 people did take shelter in the bar's basement, accessible by a type of ladder, but it "can only hold about 40 to 60 people at most" and is "very dangerous." While he plans to seek experts to strengthen an evacuation plan, others are putting the onus on patrons. "Maybe choosing a business that is 75% windows as the place you want to shelter from a tornado that you knew was coming 14 hours ahead of time wasn't the best idea?" writes a Facebook user. (Read more tornado stories.)

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