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Archive for Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Topekan charged in shooting outside Taste Lounge

March 20, 2012

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A 20-year-old Topeka man was charged Monday in connection with a weekend shooting outside a Lawrence bar.

It was the third incident involving a firearm since October near Taste Lounge, Bar and Grill, 804 W. 24th St., and City Attorney Toni Wheeler said Monday the city was deciding whether to ask the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control agency to consider revoking or suspending the bar’s liquor license.

“We are in the process of collecting and analyzing information regarding the activities at the Taste Lounge, and depending on this review, city staff may recommend the city request such a hearing before the ABC,” Wheeler said.

Dante Marcus Fields was arrested early Saturday during a vehicle stop that Lawrence police made in west Lawrence after a 1:30 a.m. shooting outside Taste Lounge. A 30-year-old Lawrence man was taken by private vehicle to Lawrence Memorial Hospital with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening, said Capt. Bill Cory, a patrol shift supervisor.

Fields faces charges of aggravated battery, theft and possession of marijuana. On the theft count, he’s accused of stealing a tip jar from Taste, prosecutors said.

“The suspect and the victim are known to each other,” Cory said in a statement. “A gun was located, and the injuries suffered by the victim were determined to be nonlife-threatening.”

Cory said the victim was an employee of the bar who was not working at the time of the incident. Eve Kemple, an assistant district attorney, said in court Monday the victim’s bullet wound was “through and through.”

Police said witnesses reported hearing one gunshot from the parking lot, and at least one witness reported seeing the victim on the ground and then get up.

Police stopped the suspect’s vehicle near Bob Billings Parkway and George Williams Way in west Lawrence. Two people were detained, but Fields was the only one arrested. A judge set his bond at $25,000 during the weekend, and pro-tem Judge James George declined a request from Fields’ attorney, Thomas Frost, for a $10,000 bond. Frost said in court it was too early to talk about a possible defense in the case, but he said Fields could stay with family members in Lawrence if he’s released on bond and would consent to electronic monitoring while out of jail. Frost also said his client had no prior felony convictions.

In the two prior incidents at Taste Lounge, two Leavenworth men were arrested for a shooting incident on Oct. 9 when no one was injured, and on Dec. 9, a Lawrence man was arrested for firing a weapon from a vehicle near the establishment. Two phone numbers listed for the bar were not operable Monday, and attempts to reach the registered agent for Taste, Lee Riley of Topeka, were not successful.

Wheeler said the city periodically reviews reports of incidents at drinking establishments because a 2009 state law gives cities and counties the authority to request hearings on their liquor licenses.

The city has pursued this avenue in recent years against nightclubs that had problems with violence. Owners of Last Call closed the nightclub in the 700 block of New Hampshire Street after a legal battle with the city. In 2009, owners of the former Club Axis, 821 Iowa, previously known as Moon Bar, also closed its doors and put the building up for sale and surrendered the club’s state liquor license.

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