Palmetto's Club Elite won't reopen after shootings

lwilliams@bradenton.comSeptember 13, 2011 

PALMETTO -- The owner of Club Elite in Palmetto, the scene of Saturday’s mass shooting that left two dead and 22 injured, says the business will not reopen as a bar.

Walter L. “Mickey” Presha Sr. said he’s not going to sell the property.

“I based this on what’s best for my family. I didn’t want my family name getting thrown around. My daughter is really distraught, she’s in bad shape,” Presha said Monday afternoon.

Just months before Saturday’s shooting, Presha’s daughter, Trina Presha Rosier, stopped hiring off-duty Palmetto Police officers to provide security outside the club.

Club Elite is operated by the firm Illusions Inc., according to a business license provided by the city of Palmetto. Walter Presha is the president of Illusions, according to data obtained from the Florida Secretary of State’s Office. He also owns the building.

Rosier is listed in the documents as Illusion’s vice president, treasurer and secretary.

Palmetto Police spokesman Lt. Scott Tyler said Rosier told police in April or May that her club would no longer need off-duty officers patrolling the exterior of her club, the sidewalk and parking lots adjacent to the building.

“Basically, the club canceled us,” Tyler said. The club usually had hired two or three officers on weekends.

“They stayed until the club closed,” he said. “They worked the perimeter, not inside the club. They made sure people weren’t fighting. It really worked well.”

Presha is also president and chief executive officer of Manatee County Rural Health Services.

“My daughter runs the club,” Presha said earlier Monday, before announcing the bar’s closure. “Even though I am president of the company, I don’t have anything to do with it.”

But Illusion’s chain-of-command is clear.

“She reports to me,” Presha said.

Rosier said she stopped hiring Palmetto officers because business was slow. Police agencies in Manatee County usually charge about $25 per hour for off-duty work.

Rosier also said she was in the process of transferring ownership of the business to another firm -- a process she said began three days before the killings. The firm she named is not an active corporation, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

“I know they have a vending truck,” she said. “I know they have a restaurant and lounge. I am not sure, I know they have a food truck.”

The transfer of ownership was not official, Rosier said.

“We were just working out a lease agreement,” she said. “At this point it was in the early stages of the transfer.”

The most recent business license on file with the city of Palmetto shows that Illusions Inc. is the only licensed firm at 704 10th St. W.

Rosier was not able to provide any phone numbers or documents for the firm she said was looking to take over the business.

Rosier said she has no regrets about the decision to stop using off-duty police.

“At this point, someone else was operating the business. I don’t think it was foreseeable,” she said. “I don’t think we could have done anything different.”

Lee Williams, Herald investigative reporter, can be reached at (941) 526-8856.

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