CHICAGO (CBS) — R. Kelly might have violated a court order not to use his recording studio late at night, and someone from his entourage might have stolen the keys to a news crew’s rental car late Sunday night as they filmed the activity at the Near West Side warehouse.
CBS 46 investigative reporter Jonathan Carlson and a photographer were staking out the studio at 219 N. Justine St. when in the reporter’s words, “all hell broke loose” around 11:30 p.m., forcing him to call police.
Carlson said he and his photographer began to shoot video when someone they believe to be Kelly left the building surrounded by an entourage hiding him with umbrellas and jackets. That’s when Carlson saw a member of the R&B singer’s entourage in a black SUV pull up next to their jump their rented Chevrolet Malibu and steal the key fob.
That person then jumped into a waiting car and sped away.
“I do think that the people inside knew who we were. They were aware that we were out there all evening, and what we were doing. So I do believe that they knew we were media and they weren’t happy that we were there,” Carlson told WBBM Newsradio.
Unable to follow, the CBS 46 crew was forced to have their car towed from the scene.
Police confirmed they received a report of a man stealing the keys to the Malibu and fleeing the scene in an SUV.
Whoever was seen leaving the studio at 11:30 p.m., they were there in violation of a court order that the building be used only between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Judge Patrice Ball-Reed has restricted use of the building, after city officials took Kelly and the building owners to court for zoning and building code violations.
Kelly’s studio has been under scrutiny in recent weeks, because it is zoned only for commercial use, but city inspectors said they found it was being used as a residence, noting the warehouse had been built out with bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, a full bar and a lounge area. The city also cited the building for several building code violations, including unsafe stairwells, improper fire separation and electrical problems.
However, Kelly’s attorney said the beds were there only because Kelly has always worked at night.
“You can’t put a schedule on when a moment of beautiful music comes into your soul. You can’t put that type of schedule on an event that strikes you to such a deep level that you can produce such beautiful music,” Kelly’s attorney, Melvin Sims, said Friday.
If it was Kelly and his entourage, they were inside the warehouse more than two hours past the court-ordered deadline. On Friday, Judge Ball-Reed ruled that the building can only be used between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
“She did allow them to use the recording studio under limited hours of operation. She did stress the fact that she didn’t want anyone sleeping there overnight, she didn’t want big parties congregating. She does respect the fact that it’s a recording studio, and she’s allowing it to be used for that purpose only,” Chicago Law Department deputy corporation counsel Kimberly Roberts said.
Kelly’s attorneys have said the singer is working to comply with all court orders, including the removal of the beds from the warehouse.