SF Castro club owners beef up security ahead of New Year's Eve

Bar and club owners are preparing for the upcoming New Year's Eve celebrations. 

And top of mind is security. 

They said a recent mass shooting targeting a LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado hits close to home.

On Wednesday night, people from a dozen businesses attended what organizers call an active shooter workshop held in the Castro neighborhood.

Organizers said the key for businesses to be prepared by having a safety plan in place.

At 440 Castro, there is a festive mood to go with the decorations celebrating the holiday season.

"We're having a really good time for the holiday season.  We hope everybody comes out and enjoys themselves," said Andy Anderson, the bartender.  

But he said security is always on the back of his mind and that patrons who come in with bags are checked for weapons.

"I'm a gay Asian man, it can be scary even though I did grow up here. You never know if somebody's going to attack you," said Douglas Kwan, who is a regular customer at the bar.  

Just last month, a mass shooting at Club Q, a LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado, killed five people.

"The best thing to do is to think ahead of time," said Gregg Carey with Castro Community on Patrol, a citizen volunteer group. He said the mass shooting and incidents of hate directed at the LGBTQ community prompted the active shooter workshop.  

The group is advising bars and clubs to have a safety plan, pat-down searches or metal detectors, and a security presence.  

"If someone is looking to attack something in the Castro, they're likely to look for the one that is least protected so if you have that visible presence, that can deter that person from executing whatever plans they might have," said Carey.  

Erik Thomas, the head of security from Beaux, a gay bar, attended the workshop. 

He said security was enhanced after the Club Q shooting. 

Thomas said searches are already conducted at the door but security wands are only used for special events such as the upcoming New Year's Eve celebration.

"Having other businesses in the area that are now expressing this level of interest is definitely very comforting," said Thomas.  

Organizers said Wednesday's workshop was primarily for club and bar owners.

They plan to hold more workshops in the new year to include members of the public. 

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at Amber.Lee@Fox.com or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU