Jefferson’s, Ladybird Diner set reopening dates; man takes 4 hours to allegedly steal $4,000 in Best Buy items; accused shoplifter caught with gun, K2

2015 has been rough for the 700 block of Massachusetts Street.

Just weeks into the new year, flames and heavy smoke began billowing out of Jefferson’s restaurant, 743 Massachusetts St., around 11 a.m. Jan. 15. Less than two months later, a March 3 fire in the smoker at Bigg’s on Mass, 719 Massachusetts St., left extensive smoke and water damage to the building and its neighboring businesses, including Ladybird Diner at 721 Massachusetts St.

We’ve been without Jefferson’s wings — and my favorite: fried pickles — since that Jan. 15 fire, watching longingly as repair workers come in and out of the building. Bigg’s on Mass and Ladybird Diner have also had their doors closed since the Bigg’s fire March 3. (It doesn’t help that Ladybird Diner owner Meg Heriford has been torturing us all since with pie and doughnut photos in anticipation of her reopening.)

But I have good news: The wait may soon be over.

Jefferson’s — after eight months — has scheduled its reopening for Aug. 31 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. And you can tell folks are pretty excited about that; more than 1,000 people have RSVP’d to the Grand Reopening event’s Facebook page. If you’d like to join them, you can find the page here:

All of the dollar bills pinned to the walls of Jefferson’s were ruined in the fire, owner Brandon Graham said. But they were tallied up before they were removed. When the restaurant reopens, Graham plans to host a contest for customers to guess how many Washingtons had graced Jefferson’s walls before the fire. The closest guess will win free hot wings for a year.

And there’s more. So, my colleagues saw this tweet and sent me down the block to Ladybird Diner yesterday.

So I went, and found Heriford. That’s when she told me the sweet news – she plans to reopen her downtown restaurant “hopefully next week.”

She couldn’t give me an exact date, so you can bet I’ll be cruising by everyday starting Monday in hopes of seeing an open door and fresh pies inside. To tide you over, here’s another Ladybird Diner tweet to make you count down the days until reopening.

I also spoke yesterday with Doug Holiday, who owns Bigg’s on Mass. Unfortunately, he said he “wish(ed) (he) knew” when the downtown barbecue restaurant might open. For now, he said, it looks like the reopening date may be in the “next couple months.”

Still, Holiday said the rebuilding process is moving along. He said he’s got a new meat smoker in Kansas City waiting to be installed in the restaurant and workers are finishing up work on the building’s electricity.

“We have to slap everything else into place,” Holiday said. “You have to deconstruct before you reconstruct. We’re at the mercy of everyone else’s schedules.”

Did you think I’d forgotten about crime today? Nah. Here’s some narratives of recent happenings that Lawrence police spokesman Sgt. Trent McKinley told me about:

Monday, 4:07 p.m.
A man arranges to purchase something from a couple other men and is told to meet them in the 400 block of North Street. When he gets there, one of the men allegedly threatens him with a knife. McKinley said the victim told police “he was in fear of being cut or stabbed,” so he tried to pry the knife away from the suspect and received a cut to his hand in the process.

The suspects then allegedly took the victim’s cash and cellphone and ran away. The victim went to Lawrence Memorial Hospital for treatment. Officers located the suspects later that day and arrested them. Jail booking logs indicate that two suspects are 18-year-old Lawrence residents Jamie Jeron Collins and Casey Lamont Williams.

Collins is charged with aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery and criminal damage to property. Williams is charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery and criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Monday, 5:33 p.m.
Someone calls police to report that a transient man is allegedly living in a storage area meant for tenant use inside an apartment building on Tennessee Street. The man, identified in jail booking logs as 60-year-old David Lee McKinzey, had allegedly broken into one of the units and placed blankets and other personal items inside.

Responding officers said they discovered a broken padlock on the floor near one of the empty storage units and knocked on that unit’s door. A man allegedly answered the door, and officers and management staff told him to grab his stuff and leave. They also tell him he would not be allowed to return to the apartment building again. But the man apparently wasn’t having it, because he told the group he would not be leaving. So, officers arrested him on suspicion of criminal trespass and criminal damage to property for allegedly breaking the padlock.

What’s interesting is that this wasn’t the first time the man was discovered in this spot. McKinley said that a maintenance worker told officers that he’d found the man in the unit about two weeks ago. The maintenance worker allegedly told the man to leave then, but he apparently returned.

McKinzey remains in the Douglas County Jail on a $200 bond.

Tuesday, 5:15 p.m.
Officers arrive at Best Buy, 2020 West 21st St., to a report of an alleged shoplifter cutting open packaging and stuffing store merchandise inside his clothing. Best Buy loss-prevention workers inside continue to watch the suspect, and officers wait outside for the man, identified on booking logs as 21-year-old Baldwin City resident Tyler James Bailey, to pass by the cash registers and walk out the doors without paying for the items.

Well, four hours tick by, with police and loss-prevention personnel waiting on this suspect to try to leave with the stuff. Just after 9 p.m., the man eventually does, allegedly with “obvious bulges” in his clothing as officers approached him, McKinley said. The officers arrest him, and take him back inside the store. They search him, and allegedly find 47 stolen items on him, ranging in price between $20 and $180. All of that added up to a total of $4,126.51.

Police then took the man from the store and booked him into the Douglas County Jail on suspicion of felony theft, criminal damage to property. He also had an outstanding warrant.

Wednesday, 11:52 a.m.
Someone calls police to the area of 23rd and Alabama streets reporting “the sounds of banging and screaming coming from inside a white van with dark tinted windows” headed west on 23rd Street, McKinley said. The caller indicated that the van’s rear door was moving as the banging sounds were heard.

The caller did not know the license plate number, but said the van was “boxy in style and unlike a regular minivan,” McKinley said. Police officers and sheriff’s deputies both tried to look for the van, but did not end up locating it. Keep your eyes peeled. That one sounds scary.

Thursday, 3:22 p.m.
A 27-year-old Lawrence man is booked into the Douglas County Jail after allegedly picking out a pair of shoes at the south Iowa Wal-Mart, putting them on and leaving the store without paying for them. That man, identified on booking logs as Cordero Pewe Riley, was stopped by Wal-Mart loss-prevention employees and taken into the loss-prevention office. There, officers say, they find that the man not only has the stolen shoes on his feet, but also a handgun and the synthetic drug “K2,” which is illegal in Kansas.

McKinley said the man allegedly told police that he’d found the handgun in a trashcan before going into Wal-Mart and committing the theft. There was no indication that he threatened anyone with the gun during the process.

He was arrested on suspicion of burglary, drug possession, criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, criminal use of a financial card and three counts of theft. He’s yet to be charged, but I’d bet he’ll make his first appearance in court this afternoon.


And now for our regular roundup of police calls. As always, I’ll remind you that this is a list of noteworthy calls I pulled from the Lawrence Police Department call log. Not all calls yielded police reports, and many may have gone unsubstantiated. The list is meant to give you an idea of what kinds of calls police are responding to within a given time period.

This list is a collection of calls that police responded to between Thursday afternoon and Wednesday morning:


• Disturbance (verbal or physical arguments): 4

• Domestic disturbance: 4

• Criminal threat: 1

• Fight in progress: 1


• Noninjury accident: 7

• Injury accident: 1


• Medical: 6

• Suicide threat: 1


• Suspicious activity: 1

• Fireworks: 1

• Noise/Nuisance: 5


• Drug Activity: 1


• Child welfare check: 3

• Adult welfare check: 3

• Missing adult: 1

Property crimes

• Shoplifter: 1

• Burglary: 2

• Auto burglary: 1

• Stolen vehicle: 1

• Trespassing: 3

• Theft: 5

• Forgery: 3