Court orders restrictions, security at South Hilltop bar, scene of several shootings

The Columbus City Attorney’s office has obtained a preliminary injunction against the owners of a bar in the South Hilltop neighborhood following a series of violent crimes at the location.

The injunction has been issued against the Spotlight II Lounge, located at 1662 W Mound St. at Reed Street, which Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said has been the site of fatal shootingsrobberies and other criminal activities in recent years.

Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Stephanie Mingo ordered the bar to close the weekends of Aug. 19-21 and Aug. 26-28, Klein’s office said. The bar is also subject to other restrictions during all other days, including closing by 1 am and not allowing patrons inside the establishment after 1:15 am

Mingo ordered the bar’s owners must maintain licensed, uniform security during all hours of operation and until 2 am, the city attorney’s office said. The owners must take reasonable measures to prevent loitering on the property.

Shirley King, the property owner, signed a criminal trespass form that allows law enforcement to remove any individual found on the premises after 2 am

King, whom Klein’s office said owes $7,274.47 in delinquent property taxes since they were last paid in July 2021, declined to comment on the injunction.

Klein said the city wants to work with the owner of Spotlight II Lounge to end crime and violence at the bar, but if it “proves too much for them to address,” he said he would “not hesitate to take further action, including shutting the bar down for good.”

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Since July 1, 2021, Columbus police have been dispatched to the bar at least 50 times, the majority of instances occurring from 1 to 5 am, according to court documents.

On July 31, 2021, police responded around 2:10 am to a shooting that killed 25-year-old Marshawn Sullens and wounded four others after a fight began in the parking lot as the bar was closing.

Police reported that an argument between two men in the parking lot escalated when a third man struck one of them in the head and knocked him to the ground. The man who had been struck pulled out a gun and began to randomly fire into the crowd of patrons leaving the bar, according to a police report.

Once the man began shooting, others produced weapons and began to shoot as well. Police said numerous shots were fired at different times.

Additionally, Columbus police have received dozens of calls for stolen vehicles, car break-ins, fighting, theft and other disturbances at the premises over the past year, including on May 4, when a patron allegedly stole a firearm from security and fired a shot , the city attorney’s office said.

On May 8, a large group of men were reported to the police for fighting outside the premises. The situation escalated and at least one shot was fired. On June 4, police responded to a report of shots fired at the bar, where witnesses stated they heard multiple shots from the parking lot. Three shots struck the outer wall of the building and another struck the widow of a vehicle.

On June 18, Ohio Investigative Unit liquor control agents executed a search warrant of the bar to obtain copies of security footage to assist in the investigation of a shooting that occurred outside the bar. While on scene, officers issued violations to the property owners after they observed numerous health code violations and evidence of drug use there, the city attorney’s office said.

In addition, the bar has engaged in unlawful adult entertainment performances on multiple occasions in violation of Columbus City Code, the city attorney’s office said.

“The long history of violence and criminal activity at this bar presents a substantial safety risk to patrons, employees and area residents, and it’s imperative that the City step in to hold property owners accountable and protect public safety,” Klein said.

Assistant City Attorney Zach Gwin, who is the Zone Initiative attorney for the city’s West Side and handled the case, said the office is glad the bar and property owners were willing to come to the table and “make serious commitments for the safety of patrons and neighbors.”

Read more: Columbus gets court order to shut down North Side motel, site of violent crime and drug activity

“The violent crime and firearm-related offenses at this location constituted an ongoing threat to the surrounding neighborhood,” Gwin said.

The next scheduled court date on the case is Nov. 14.


This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Court orders West Side bar to close early after string of violence

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