By Alton Mitchell
Gunfire broke the quiet rural atmosphere of the Cusseta community early Sunday morning. The source of the gunfire was a known nightspot in the rural community that has seen its share of violence over the years and now has seen its first fatality as the gunfire on Sunday left an Opelika man dead in the businesses parking lot.
The Rhythm and Blues Sports Bar is located at 9857 U.S. Highway 29 North near Cusseta. The club’s location sits in rural Lee County about one mile from the Chambers County line. The small bar has operated for several years in the rural community only feet away from homes and other businesses.
On Sunday morning, at 3:00 a.m. the Lee County Sheriff’s Office received a call of shots being fired and someone being hit in the 9000 block of U.S. Highway 29. Deputies responded to the scene with the assistance of EAMC EMS. When first responders arrived, they discovered a male in the parking lot suffering from a gunshot injury.
According to the Lee County Coroner’s Office when the victim was discovered there were no signs of life. Lee County Coroner Bill Harris arrived on the scene and pronounced the victim dead on location. The coroner’s office has identified the victim as Tamichael Najee Jones, 28, of Opelika. The body of Jones was transported to the Alabama Medical Examiners Office in Montgomery for an autopsy.
Investigators continue to work the shooting death of Jones. Investigators were unable to locate the weapon used in the shooting and police report many witnesses had left the scene before their arrival. Investigators indicate that there appeared to be a private party going on at the venue on Sunday when the violence broke out in the parking lot.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office has investigated numerous shootings and criminal offenses that have occurred at the business over the years. Less than a year ago a Opelika man was shot in the abdomen inside of the bar. Days before that another man received injuries when he was stabbed with a bottle inside of the bar. In December 2015 three people were shot in a single incident outside of the club including a Lanett man, who did survive his injuries.
Lee County Sheriff deputies indicate that they are no stranger to the business and have responded to calls ranging from shots fired to drugs and fights at the bar. In March of 2017 Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones noted that over a span of 6 months his deputies had responded to more than two dozen calls at the business with numerous victims.
The fatal shooting that occurred on Sunday morning remains under investigation. Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the Lee County Sheriff’s Department at (334)749-5651.