The recent fatal shootings on Massachusetts Street have spurred at least one of downtown Lawrence’s largest entertainment venues to amp up security measures.
Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St., which has always prohibited guns, now has all attendees at live events pass by handheld metal detectors to enter.
“We have prohibited large bags and purses and done bag checks for as long as I can remember, as well as wanding patrons upon artist or promoter request,” general manager Dean Edington said, in an email to the Journal-World. “Recent events have seen us decide to move to wanding for public events of all shapes and sizes.”
The Oct. 1 shootings that killed three people and injured two did not happen inside any bar or entertainment venue. Rather, gunfire erupted outside near the intersection of 11th and Massachusetts streets following a physical altercation.
The incident did, however, happen at about 1:40 a.m. — close to when many downtown bars and shows let out for the night.
Edington said Liberty Hall wants to make its best effort to “protect everyone and provide a space where all can feel welcome and safe.”
“It’s not something I’m thrilled about, as I prefer to believe (probably naively) in people's better natures but the safety of our patrons is paramount to all,” he said. “The reality of the world we live in today dictates a need for more stringent security measures.”
As of Friday, three men had been taken into custody and charged with crimes in connection with the Massachusetts Street shootings. One man, Anthony L. Roberts Jr. of Topeka, is charged with murdering all three victims who died and attempting to murder one of the other two men who was shot.
Media reports and social media connections have linked several of the victims and the men who have been arrested. Police have declined to confirm those relationships or release further details of the circumstances leading to the shooting, citing their ongoing investigation.