4 suspects arrested after downtown beating

Victim attacked after group makes comment to girlfriend, police say

Police arrested four men early Friday for beating and robbing a 22-year-old man from the Kansas City area in the 1000 block of Massachusetts Street.

The man and his girlfriend were getting into a vehicle about 2:15 a.m. in the parking lot near 11th and Massachusetts streets when a group of men nearby made a comment to his girlfriend, according to a police report.

“He made a comment back to them, at which point they came toward him, surrounded him, struck him in the head with a beer bottle and then proceeded to hit and kick him,” Lawrence Police spokesman Sgt. Dan Ward said.

Since the beginning of the year, a string of violent incidents tied to Lawrence’s bar scene have prompted debate about how to improve public safety downtown. Other recent crimes include a shooting in February outside the Granada, 1020 Mass., gunshots being fired inside Last Call, 729 N.H., and repeated gun seizures from vehicles in parking lots.

Ideas floated by the city at a public forum addressing the violence include licensing standards for bars, a “Pubwatch” program and closed-circuit cameras.

The victim in Friday’s case also had $20 stolen from his wallet. Witnesses saw the group of men get into a vehicle, which was stopped by police a short distance away.

One witness, who didn’t want to be identified, said she saw a group of men sprinting away from the area, then saw the victim shouting for help with blood on his face.

The man was treated at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and released.

Arrested were Francis Paul Dressler of Linwood and Eudora residents Michael J. Jeffcoat, Jared D. Randel and Brandon Lee Werst. All are 20 years old.

They initially were booked into the Douglas County Jail for aggravated robbery, battery and disorderly conduct, but only battery charges had been filed against them as of Friday afternoon.