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Archive for Monday, October 6, 2003

Police investigate gunfire outside Lawrence bar

October 6, 2003

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Ashley Meyer thought she was hearing fireworks, at first.

Then she heard screams and saw people diving for the pavement. And she realized someone was firing into the crowd gathered outside a downtown bar just before closing time early Sunday.

"I just kind of froze and everyone was down on the ground," said Meyer, a Kansas University student from Ballwin, Mo.

Ricocheting bullets and flying pieces of pavement injured 11 people who were outside It's Brothers Bar & Grill, 1105 Mass., just before 2 a.m., Lawrence Police said.

Several hours later, Jason A. Tremble, 21, the Topeka man suspected of the attack, was found near Sixth and Florida streets and booked into the Douglas County Jail.

Katie Van Thournout was one of the victims.

"Everyone just dropped to the floor (ground), and then a thing ricocheted and hit my lip," the KU student from Minnetonka, Minn., told 6News. "Everyone was on the (ground) and then there was mass chaos."

Injuries treated

One of the people hit by flying debris was taken by Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical ambulance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Others went by private vehicle, police said. None of the injuries was life-threatening and hospital supervisors said no victims of the shooting were admitted. Police did not release names of the victims.

One victim went by private vehicle to Stormont-Vail Health Center in Topeka. No information was available about that person Sunday night.

Tremble was booked into jail Sunday on suspicion of attempted second-degree murder of all of the victims, criminal in possession of a firearm and a municipal court warrant, police said. No bond was set. He was scheduled to appear at 3 p.m. today in Douglas County District Court.

Police said Tremble was arrested about 6:15 a.m. in the area of Sixth and Florida streets after officers saw a man matching the gunman's description.

A manager at the Jet Lag Lounge, 610 Fla., told the Journal-World police came in Sunday morning and arrested a man who had entered the bar moments before to call for a cab. The only other person present at the bar was a man hired to clean, said the manager, who asked that her name not be used.

What happened

According to Lt. Dan Affalter, police reported hearing gunshots near It's Brothers at 1:50 a.m. As police moved into the area, a large crowd was dispersing from outside the bar. Witnesses told police several shots had been fired by a man with a handgun. The suspect left the area in a blue car with Missouri license plates, Affalter said. He was last seen turning north on Kentucky Street.

None of the suspects or witnesses knew the gunman, Affalter said.

At 1:56 a.m., police received word of a one-car accident at Sixth and Kentucky streets. Residents in the area told police they saw two men abandon the car and run away.

At 6:15 a.m. officers found the suspect identified as Tremble at Sixth and Florida streets. Police did not release details about the arrest or how they found Tremble at that location. The man who was cleaning the bar at the time of the arrest is homeless, the Jet Lag manager said. He could not be located for comment Sunday night.

A random act?

Shortly after the shooting, as police were still questioning witnesses, Van Thournout said it didn't appear the gunman was targeting a specific person.

"He was shooting at the ground and shooting in the air," she said. "He wasn't pointing the gun at anyone in particular."

Greg Thomes, general manager of It's Brothers, said he was confident the suspect wasn't a patron of his bar. The shooting took place just to the south of his bar, he said.

"We think it was random and it just so happened to be near Brothers," Thomes said. "We had a very calm night in here and everyone was well-behaved. This is not the type of place where this sort of thing happens. We're a college bar and we cater to that crowd."

Thomes said he thinks his bar has good security and identification checks at the front door.

The victims ranged in age from 18 to 26, Affalter said. Six were men and five were women. Two of the victims were Lawrence residents and five were from Topeka, he said. The others were from Leawood, Manhattan, Parkville, Mo., and Lone Tree, Colo.

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