After dozens of police calls, multiple shots fired incidents and a Sunday morning shooting that left one dead and multiple victims injured, some city officials are saying stronger action is needed with the downtown bar in the middle of it all.
Police were called to Doubles, 1555 Main St., at about 2 a.m. Sunday after witnesses called 911 to report multiple shots fired inside the establishment. Witnesses described more than a dozen shots fired and a scene that was “terrifying.”
Investigators on Sunday evening were still searching for a suspect or suspects and trying to determine the exact number of victims. Several victims were transported by the Hamilton Fire Department to Fort Hamilton Hospital and Bethesda Hospital Butler County, but some victims drove themselves to the hospitals, police reports indicated.
“I have spoken to the manager of the bar, and this is not the first incident we have had at this bar,” said Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit. “This is totally unacceptable, and I plan to meet with the manager of this bar (today) so this won’t happen again. We will be taking a look at the calls we have had over here and we will let them know we are here to help them but they need to take some responsibility so this kind of thing doesn’t happen.”
Officers have been called to the address 43 times since December 2013, according police records. Twelve calls were for bar checks, and there have been four calls for shots fired since January 2015.
Scott Scrimizzi, Director of Public Safety for the City of Hamilton, said law enforcement will look at what could be done to make the establishment and area safer. . But first, police want to solve this crime, he said.
“This is a problem location that has very sporadic hours and days of operation,” he said. “Right now, what is even more concerning to me is that lack of cooperation from the patrons who were inside but unwilling to cooperate with the police.”
Witnesses and community members react
Sharon Woodall told the Journal-News that her niece Katrina Price was shot in the head during the early morning incident.
“She is at University Hospital right now and they are taking a bullet out of her head,” Woodall said Sunday.
Erica Smith was standing across the street watching police secure the crime scene. Smith, who lives in Hamilton, said she was in the bar when the shooting started.
“There were two groups in there, and one side hates the other, and then a girl got into it with one side, and that is what started everything,” she said.
Pastor Michael Reeves of the local NAACP and Pastor Shaquila Mathews of the Truth & Life Community Church said the violence must stop and people need to help police solve these types of crimes.
“We don’t need another R.I.P. T-shirt of another person who lost their life to senseless violence, not another mother, father, child, cousin, uncle, family left to mourn. This has got to stop,” Mathews said. “People have to step and make a stand for this to end, and if they know something, they need to let the police know.”
Reeves echoed those thoughts: “This has become an epidemic in our world. People today just seem to have a different mindset. When you kill somebody it affects so many people and families. There are people who have information and they need to let the police know that information.”
Panic in 911 calls
The incident’s 911 calls reveal frantic patrons in and around the bar who were calling for help. One man said he heard multiple gunshots and that people were running from the establishment. He was standing in the parking lot when he made the call, he said.
One female caller said she was underneath a table in the bar and that “20 gunshots” were fired.
Another caller screamed into the phone, frantically relaying to the dispatcher that “somebody started shooting and we got separated … they were shooting a gun like crazy.”
Police by Sunday evening did not release any further information on the number of people injured or the deceased victim. Bethesda, Fort Hamilton and University hospitals and the Butler County Coroner’s Office did not release any information on victims and the deceased as of Sunday evening.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Hamilton Police Department’s Investigation Section at (513) 868-5811 ext. 2002.
Statement from city
“The city extends condolences to the families that have been negatively impacted by last nights violence. The Hamilton Police Department is utilizing all resources to investigate and address this violent act. The cooperation of anyone who has knowledge of what happened is critical to bringing this to a swift resolution.
Please keep the men and women of our police department in your prayers because their normally tough jobs have been exponentially tougher in recent weeks.”
-- Statement from City Manager Joshua Smith regarding the shooting at Doubles Sunday morning.