It likely began with a drink thrown on a woman, according to prosecutors, but what it became at about 2 a.m. July 24, 2016, was a mass shooting at a bar in Hamilton’s west side.
Monday marks the year anniversary of the shootout at Doubles Bar that killed one person and wounded seven others. A year later, three men charged in the shooting are in prison. A fourth, Michael Grevious II, who is charged with felonious assault in the bar shooting as well a retaliation shooting two weeks later, is awaiting a death penalty trial in September.
Three other people are accused by police of driving around the city looking for a retaliation target in what ended up as a double-fatal drive-by shooting on Central Avenue. Those three are also awaiting death penalty trials this year.
The gun violence at Doubles is an example of a change in society’s attitude about guns, Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said.
“Firearms with certain members of society are the new boxing gloves,” Gmoser said.
Gmoser said at Doubles, one person got a gun and fired, then everyone started shooting “wildly.”
Doubles, a former popular Tumbleweed restaurant, is no more. It was razed by the city after the owner of the building agreed to that in light of the criminal activity that the bar attracted, according to police.
“I anticipate that by the end of the year, these cases will be resolved,” Gmoser said.
He would not elaborate if all four death penalty cases would go to trial or if some defendants could be offered a plea.
According to court records, Grevious stood on a pool table inside Doubles and began shooting at people.
In the end, Kalif Goens, who did not have a gun, was dead and his brother, Mondale Goens, was facing two felonious assault charges in the shooting of Katrina Price and Jariaus Gilbert.
Cornell McKennelly II shot and killed Kalif Goens, according to Butler County prosecutors.
During the same shootout, three other people shot and wounded members of the Gilbert family, according to court documents that said: Rodrick Curtis Jr. shot and wounded Tavaris Gilbert; Cory Cook II shot and wounded Orlando Gilbert, who was killed days later in the Central Avenue drive-by shooting.
After the Doubles Bar shooting, Grevious recruited Zachary Harris to kill Orlando Gilbert for $5,000, according to court documents.
Harris and two ex-convicts, Tony Patete and Melinda Gibby, drove about 90 miles from Fairfield County, Ohio, to Butler County and spent several days driving around Hamilton in search of their target, investigators alleged.
Then on Aug. 3, a Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Gibby pulled up next to a black Ford Mustang occupied by Orlando Gilbert and Todd Berus. Patete, the front seat passenger of the truck, opened fire with an AK-47 multiple times, killing Gilbert and Berus, according to court documents.
Prosecutors claim that Harris orchestrated the drive-by shooting from the backseat of the pickup truck.
The defendants are associated with either the Goens or Gilbert families, who are “feuding factions in Butler County,” Assistant Prosecutor Brad Burress wrote in the court document.
Prosecutors are still fighting to keep the identities of witnesses in the remaining trials confidential for fear of intimidation.
This year, Cook, 23, of 9th Street in Hamilton, was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted felonious assault. Mondale Goens, 21, of Maple Ave., pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. He was sentenced to 4½ years in prison. Rodrick Curtis Jr., of North 7th Street, who is Goens’ first cousin, also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and received the same prison sentence of 4½ years.
In April, McKennelly, 38, of Franklin Street in Hamilton, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter with a gun specification and having weapons under disability for shooting and killing Goens. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison.
Trials for those facing the death penalty are scheduled to begin in August with Gibby, 35, of Lancaster, charged with two counts of aggravated murder. That trial is set for Aug. 22.
Grevious, charged with aggravated murder and felonious assault for the Doubles shootout, is scheduled to stand trial Sept. 25.
Zachary Harris, 24, of Columbus, charged with two counts of aggravated murder, is scheduled for trial Oct. 23, and Tony Patete, 23, of Newark, charged with two counts of aggravated murder, will be the last to stand trial on Dec. 4.
All eight case are assigned to Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephens.