PATERSON, NJ- Paterson Billiards will close its doors permanently following a homicide that occurred in December of last year. The operator of the pool hall, Sung Soo Kim, says he decided not to renew the license after speaking to the family of the victim, lifelong Paterson resident Darnell Horne, 34.
“I asked the mother how she felt, and she was strongly against me opening. I took her word and decided not to renew,” said Kim.
The matter of whether to renew the license or not sparked a heated discussion between members of the Paterson City Council before Kim announced his decision in front of them on Tuesday. At the heart of the discussion was the failure to enforce the commercial curfew the city imposes.
“There is a consistent notion that anything goes in the city of Paterson,” said Councilman Michael Jackson regarding businesses operating after hours.
It is unclear whether Paterson Billiards had been open late, but it was noted by Paterson’s Corporation Counsel Domenick Stampone that authorities were called at 2:30 a.m. on the night of Mr. Horne’s death, well past the 1:00 a.m. closing time required by city ordinance.
“I felt so bad, I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep for a week,” said a guilt stricken Kim. He told the Council that he hasn’t opened the hall since the incident, and had planned not to renew the license until an investor approached him with a proposal to run the business as a membership-only establishment.
Members of the council praised his decision not to seek renewal. “Thank you for doing the right thing,” said Councilman Andre Sayegh.
Eric McKensie, Darnell’s cousin, said the family was happy with the resolution, but still noted “somebody has to be held accountable” for businesses operating after hours. He plans to continue advocating for stricter enforcement to prevent other families from experiencing the heartbreak of losing a loved one.
Darlene Horne-Fletcher, Darnell’s mother, is thankful for Mr. Kim’s decision, and hopes that her son is remembered for his dedication to his children, an 11-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. “He just wanted to be a father to his kids,” she said.