by: Chris Jose Updated:
COWETA COUNTY, Ga. - A night of partying ended with more than three dozen arrests after deputies raided a popular sports bar in Coweta County.
The Sheriff’s Office told Channel 2’s Chris Jose that the business, Hoops Bar and Grill, has been under surveillance for months.
Deputies say the raid started with a marijuana complaint. The sheriff said the odor was so strong that you could smell it when you drove by the bar.
"Through the great social media, we were invited so we went and we showed up," Sheriff Mike Yeagar said.
Inside, deputies say they found drugs and arrested two dozen people for probation violations.
"They had their guns out. They had the task force, probation officers," Jasmine Ball said. "When they came in, they said the quickest way out of here is women on this side and men on this side. They didn't check no women."
Witnesses told Jose they were there for a “Welcome Home” party for their friend Mondell Whitaker, who had just been released from prison on Thursday.
"It's devastating. The moment we finally get out of the house, something like this happens," Kahlia Hill said.
Hill's husband was arrested in the raid.
"All of a sudden police and probation officers just bust in from like every entrance," she said.
Whitaker is a local rapper. His mother told Jose that the raid happened during the middle of her son's performance.
"He keeps getting harassed. He's just trying to go to the club to perform and make money," she said.
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Yeager said Hoops Bar and Grill has a history of not following the rules, from noise complaints to alcohol violations.
The business owners are under investigation but have not been charged.
"Pretty much everybody is doing what they want out there and that's not going to be tolerated," Yeager said.
The sheriff says deputies had a warrant to search the sports bar for drugs. He says deputies also knew some party goers would be there violating the terms of their probation.
“They are not supposed to be in establishments like that on probation or parole. And they're not supposed to be around alcohol and they're not supposed to be around drugs,” Yeager said.
The bar was closed Monday with a chain around the door.
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