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Charleston Police Keep Close Eye On West Side Bars Following String Of Shootings, Neighborhood Complaints

Reported: Apr. 2, 2014 6:23 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 2, 2014 10:01 PM EDT

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Leslie Rubin) -- A recent string of shootings on the West Side of Charleston has left fear in many minds, as neighbors wonder what will happen next.

Charleston police said they are taking those concerns very seriously and are working to send a strong message.

Last night, several calls were made to the Eyewitness News newsroom after people living on the West Side saw dozens of police cars surrounding a known trouble spot in the area.

Some wondered if someone had been shot, but that's far from what was happening. Charleston police were raiding a bar that they said some "key players" in a recent string of shootings had ties to.

By the end of the raid, eight people had been arrested, and a larger problem was put in the spotlight.

"They don't have the same quality of life that they once had and we know that," Lt. Shawn Williams said, as he patrolled the streets of the West Side on Wednesday.

Community concerns that linger across the area, as police are reaching out to those closest to the problems.

"We can not solve all the problems by ourselves. People have to want to take a stand and become shareholders in the community," Williams said.

Police said nuisance complaints were what sparked a Tuesday night raid at Shaar's Bar on Central Avenue.

Police arrested Carolyn Carter, 66, James Baldwin, 52, Marcus Curtis, 24, George Flood, 48, Isaiah McDade, 37, Jamila Oliver, 31, Kenneth England, 45, and Brian Miller, 29.

Their charges ranged from having outstanding warrants, to possession and disorderly conduct.

Police said they were also keeping a close eye on the bar because some of the key players in a rash of shootings over the last week had connections to the bar. Police have responded to four shooting scenes on the west side since the night of March 24.

"We explained that we had to shut down two schools in the area as a result of gunfire. They were frequenting that bar. It was a show of good faith on our part that were trying to fix those problems and prevent that from happening in the future. We don't like locking down schools because those kids deserve to go to a safe environment," Williams said.

Police said there are several west side bars that continue to cause problems. Metro 911 reports that in the last year 61 calls for service have been made from Shaars, followed closely by the 60 calls from the former Birdcage, now renamed Heart and Seoul. 36 calls have been made from the Kickback Lounge on Central Avenue and 33 911 calls have been made from Park Place, just up the street.

"We need business in Charleston.The clientele that they serve...like the bartender last night, she was very cooperative but she said she can't be held responsible for what the clientele does as they leave the bar. We tend to disagree," Williams explained.

"I've said it for years, the west side unfortunately gets a bad rap, because the 10 to 15 people that are committing most of these crimes, they continue to plague the west side and our job is to eradicate them, not only from the west side, but also from Charleston," Williams said.

Information about last night's raid at Shaars has been turned over to the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration. Gig Robinson, a spokesperson for the agency, said the information is under review to determine what, if any, actions will be taken regarding the bar's liquor license.

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