BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Liquor Control Commission has opened an investigation into the Cricket Club bar in Battle Creek after a fatal shooting of an unarmed man by a security guard.

Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert, who ruled the Thanksgiving shooting was in self-defense, said the bar, with a capacity of about 300, was far over-crowded the night that 29-year-old Xavier West was shot and killed. It’s estimated that there were 900 patrons or more at the bar that night.

“I thought there was an extremely large number of people in there, which probably accounted for a lot of the fights that were occurring at the bar,” Gilbert told News 8 on Wednesday.

When asked if the bar should be held responsible, the prosecutor said: “I can’t really go there, but I’m sure they’re talking to attorneys.”

He said enforcement of overcrowding is up to the local fire marshal or the state Liquor Control Commission.

The Battle Creek fire marshal could not be reached Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the Liquor Control Commission acknowledged that an investigation had been opened, adding that “the commission doesn’t comment on open investigations.”

LCC records show the bar has faced one violation, in 2019, for not having insurance, leading to a warning. Records show the bar is owned by Triple J Endeavors, LLC, and lists three members: Jared Fulton, Joel Fulton and Jeremy Kanaga. They could not be reached for comment.

The parents of Xavier West said they believe the bar should be held responsible.

“I think they should get shut down, close down and never open again,” his mother Nakiesha West told News 8. “You don’t go over-capacity. You know something’s going to happen. That’s just way too many people. This was your establishment that you allowed this man to come in to do this to my son, and now I can’t see him ever again.”

The shooting followed a large fight on Thanksgiving Eve — traditionally the busiest night of the year for bars. As workers hustled out patrons, the guard was knocked to the ground and attacked.

The prosecutor said videos show West scuffling with the guard, punching him and diving on his back before the guard fired twice, a response West’s family called excessive.

Xavier was Nakiesha West’s middle child and had a child of his own, an 8-year-old daughter.

“He was such a great child, had the biggest heart, a heart of gold,” his mother said. “He sees you, he knows you, you’re going to get a kiss and a hug.”

She said her son had gone to the bar with relatives to celebrate a cousin’s birthday.

On Tuesday, she said she learned from a friend that the prosecutor had ruled the shooting was self-defense.

“My heart dropped and I started crying,” she said. “And when I got off the phone, I said, ‘No this ain’t going to happen. I’m going to pray and pray and pray until I can’t pray no more. Something’s going to happen, something’s going to change.'”

West’s family acknowledged that he struck the guard.

“Did my son hit (the guard)?” his stepfather, Walter Nichols, said. “Yes he did, twice.”

But they said the guard should not have answered with gunfire. The bar’s owner had allowed the guard to carry a gun, the prosecutor said.

“Excessive force, most definitely,” the stepfather said.

The parents contend the prosecutor should not have reviewed the case since he knows one of the owners and once held a campaign event at the Cricket Club.

“I would respect you more if you would just recuse yourself from the case and let another county try the case,” West’s stepfather said.

The prosecutor defended his ruling, saying he had no connection to the guard.

“I have no conflict with him,” Gilbert said. “I don’t know him. I know his employer. I’ve been to the Cricket Club; I’ve been to Meijer, too. That doesn’t mean I can’t review cases from Meijer.”

The prosecutor said his investigation was hampered because so many witnesses were reluctant to come forward.

“We had over 900 people at that bar, and 12 people came forward to speak,” Gilbert said. “Based upon what I was given, I reached the conclusion that we could not overcome self defense with proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but that doesn’t mean there’s not more information out there.”

The Battle Creek Police Department has asked the state attorney general to investigate. The prosecutor said he welcomes such a review. West’s parents also hope the AG will take the case.

“I’m just thankful that it’s turned over to someone else who can look at this case, and I believe that God is going to make a way for us to get justice for Xavier,” his mom said. “It might take some time, but that’s all we want.”