When Dan Hughes read in the newspaper that a police officer was seen carrying an assault rifle around downtown Lawrence, following a Sunday shooting, the Massachusetts Street business owner said that didn’t sit well with him.
“He was probably protecting himself and doing what was proper for the situation,” said Hughes, owner of Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop, 802 Mass. “But I looked at that and thought, wow, that’s another bad deal for downtown.”
Hughes is among downtown Lawrence leaders who are concerned about these reports of violence during the last several months outside the Granada, a nighttime entertainment venue at 1020 Mass.:
• A 19-year-old Kansas City, Kan., man was injured in one of two rounds of gunfire that rang out early Sunday morning outside the establishment. The incident began with a brawl inside the Granada that staff pushed outside, police said.
• A 21-year-old Kansas City, Mo., man was found in the road, knocked unconscious, after a fight outside the nightclub at 2 a.m. Nov. 15.
• Gunshots were reported about 2 a.m. Sept. 6 outside the establishment, when police said a massive crowd of people was socializing and congregating after a party ended at the Granada. No one was injured.
The incidents at the Granada are the most recent reports that police have connected to the establishment since Rashawn Anderson, of Topeka, was convicted of killing another Topeka man in February 2006 outside the front doors.
The violence could leave a bad impression on out-of-town guests, said Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“There’s a perception … if that kind of activity takes place at night that it may not be safe to be downtown during the day,” Billings said.
After the most recent reports of violence, Hughes said, the violence seems to travel from nightspot to nightspot.
“It seems like it moves around to me,” said Hughes, president of Downtown Lawrence Inc. “You shut down one, and it moves to someplace else and you shut that one down and it moves downtown again.”
After pressure from city leaders, two Lawrence nightclubs — Last Call, which operated at 729 N.H., and Club Axis, 821 Iowa — ceased operation after being connected to violence in the last few years.
City manager David Corliss said the violence outside the Granada is also problematic. He said a meeting is being scheduled with Granada owner Mike Logan.
“It’s a very legitimate concern of the city,” Corliss said. “Hopefully the business can be operated in a way that won’t create this type of situation in the future.”
Downtown leaders said they’re not interested in having violence return to the heart of Lawrence.
“Folks all over town are concerned about these activities taking place,” Billings said.
Billings and Hughes said caution must be taken in preserving a good mix of entertainment, retail and other businesses that operate downtown.
“As we get more and more nightlife and entertainment … going on downtown … you have more problems with people drinking and fighting,” Hughes said. “I’m not against nightlife, but if you go all nightlife, I think you’re going to have more of this sort of thing going on.”
Logan did not return multiple calls seeking comment.