Sheriff still asking for legislative support to remove 'problem' businesses

Orange County Sheriff John Mina speaks out after shooting at hookah lounge

After a shooting Monday at a hookah lounge in Central Florida, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said he's working to get more legislative backing in hopes that lawmakers will give law enforcement officers the statutory authority to shut down businesses where shootings and other violent activity occur. 

On Monday, Mina said his staff spoke with State Sen. Linda Stewart to discuss ways to make sure legislators approve changes to language in current state law next session. 

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The discussion comes after the latest shooting in Orange County, in which a man was shot and critically injured overnight outside a hookah lounge, according to authorities.

The shooting was reported around 3 a.m. at the Real Hookah Lounge on Goldenrod Road near Alachua Street. 

The shooting victim, a 28-year-old man, was dropped off at Advent Health East Hospital, prompting an investigation.  

Video showed about a dozen people detained outside the lounge, but deputies said no one has been taken into custody and no arrests have been made. 

"It’s a little to close to home," said Lisa Trich, who lives nearby. "That’s very, very sad. That puts other people in danger." 

Deputies said they've responded to the hookah lounge 11 times since June for different reports of crime. It’s the latest shooting at or near late night bars and clubs in Orange County, but Mina said state law currently does not give deputies authority to shut down the clubs. 

"For whatever reason, there is no language in there for aggravated assaults, aggravated battery, stabbings, shootings, homicides, and that’s the language that we want in there," Mina said.  

The sheriff said he's pushing lawmakers to change the law to allow his deputies to shut down clubs based on shooting, stabbings and other violent crimes. Mina told News 6 he's also hoping to get support from the Florida Sheriff's Association and other legislators. 

"It would be nice to have this legislation already in place," Mina said. 

Stewart said she fully supports the amended language. 

"Shooting people is a pretty big crime, so I think it’s necessary for the sheriff to have all the tools in the toolbox in order to get in there and enforce," she said.

Officials said the amended bill passed in the House during this year's legislative session, but stalled in the Senate because of timing.  

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