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Downtown Macon bar manager says he wants apology from sheriff after getting alcohol license back

Sheriff David Davis temporarily suspended the Thirsty Turtle's license for 90-days back in November

MACON, Ga. — It was just three months ago that two Bibb County deputies went into the Thirsty Turtle to notify the general manager their alcohol license was being suspended.

The sheriff's action was in response to a mass shooting that happened along Cherry Street in the early morning hours of Black Friday. The violence killed one woman and injured at least six others. 

That order has now expired because the county commission did not take further action. General manager Matthew Obelgoner says they could be open their doors as soon as Thursday or Friday night.

On Monday, Obelgoner turned on the lights of the club and hung up the Thirsty Turtle's liquor license. 

"I just hope I can keep this business rolling, get back to my livelihood, and I hope I can get back to work," he said. 

He says the last three months have been challenging.

"We've had several single parents put out of work. I've been put out of work myself. We've put 25-30 people and their families just on hold," Obelgoner said. 

The Obelgoners claim that the sheriff took away their alcohol license without real evidence of any connection to the mass shooting.

"I'd like a handwritten apology from David Davis stating that the Thirsty Turtle had no fault in this whatsoever," said Obelgoner.

In a preliminary report Sheriff Davis gave to then Mayor Robert Reichert in December, he wrote why he decided to suspend the license, which included that the shooting happened "at or within 100 yards" of the establishment. 

"Brooke Haven is less than 25 yards from us, the Rookery is less than 100 yards away, Piedmont is less than 100 yards...they still all have their liquor licenses," said Obelgoner.

Davis also wrote that one of the suspects, Durand Faulk, was in the bar before the shooting, and that the bar's surveillance footage could not be retrieved from the security camera system.

Obelgoner says he now has to start back at square one.

"I have to rebuild a staff and start pretty much from scratch like I'm opening up a business all over again," he said. 

The Bibb County Sheriff's Office declined to comment, saying it's an open investigation. 

The Thirsty Turtle did not receive their physical alcohol license back until Monday after 13WMAZ asked the Bibb County Sheriff's Office why it hadn't been returned yet.

Obelgoner said they'd been trying to get the physical permits returned since the order expired last week so they could open back up. The sheriff's office claimed it was because they couldn't get in touch with them.


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Thirsty Turtle owner, general manager dispute statements from Bibb Sheriff's Office about Cherry Street shooting

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