The owner of Two Keys is disputing claims that the doors to the Goose Creek bar were ever locked from the inside the morning of the April 21 incident, contradicting information given to police by the alleged victims.

According to Goose Creek Police Department reports, the victims claim that Two Keys staff locked the doors to the establishment in order to prevent patrons from leaving the bar. The victims maintained that the former manager of Two Keys, Gary Eugene Long, loaned an unnamed patron money to cover a pool bet. The person in question allegedly slipped out the front door, which prompted the manager to order staff to lock the door and demand money from the victims.

Although the bar’s owner Mark Keller says that “the doors to the facility were locked at 2 a.m., at normal closing time,” which would prevent individuals from entering the establishment, “because of strict fire regulations and codes, all exit doors can be opened at any time from the inside without a key.”

Keller also maintains that even though the video of the incident allegedly shows patrons and employees inside the bar at six in the morning — with some of them appearing to carry pool cue cases — the bar was not technically open. “Two Keys Tavern was not open for business at 6 am on Saturday morning, as the tavern diligently works within the City’s ordinances, and is never open for business past 2 a.m.,” Keller says. “We understand that a manager, whom has since been terminated, took it upon himself and without the permission of the owner, to have acquaintances come in to play pool that night.”

The Two Keys owner also notes that other employees were inside the tavern finishing up their nightly duties. “A number of other employees remained after 2 a.m. to close up, as they do every night, and to clean the restaurant to our highest standards,” Keller adds. “It’s a source of pride that the restaurant has consistently earned an ‘A’ rating from the Health Department for cleanliness.”

Last week, three employees of the Goose Creek bar — Long, 41, of Summervile; Timothy Dale Lawhorn, 35, of Summerville; and Golden Luis Deleon, 30, of North Charleston — were arrested, on charges ranging from assault to robbery and kidnapping. The men no longer work at Two Keys.

On Tuesday, Live 5 posted the video of the incident online.

Love Best of Charleston?

Help the Charleston City Paper keep Best of Charleston going every year with a donation. Or sign up to become a member of the Charleston City Paper club.