Woman nearly hit by bullet after fight at Shenanigans Irish Pub speaks out, other bars demand action against "nuisance" bar

Published: Dec. 2, 2019 at 7:06 PM CST
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There is a growing concern in Downtown Davenport after a weekend fight outside a bar. The weekend incident is the latest in a series of police responses at or near Shenanigans Irish Pub near 3rd and Harrison.

“I fear it is only going to get worse because it has progressively got worse,” Mac’s Tavern owner Gary Rowland said.

Police were called to the area of Shenanigans Bar around 1:00 Sunday morning for a large fight.

At some point during or after the incidents at Shenanigans, the window of a nearby bar was hit by a bullet just missing a customer. The window that struck is boarded up and the customer who the bullet missed by inches is thankful she is okay.

"The bullet came through the window about three feet above our heads,” Meridith Miller said. "The first thing we thought of was to take cover in case another one came."

Miller told TV6 she and a group of friends were standing at the windows of Mac’s Tavern Sunday morning when the fight at Shenanigans Irish Pub spilled into the streets. Davenport Police said as they were breaking up the fight, shots rang out near the parking ramp at 2nd and Ripley.

"There was glass shatter and a pop sound and it took a few seconds to realize that a bullet had come through the window right above us,” Miller said.

Miller and Rowland said the bulled passed over Miller and her friend’s heads and missed a group of people sitting at a table.

"Very scary, yeah,” Miller said. “We were very fortunate that there were not more people in the line of fire. It could have ended very differently."

The fight and shooting incident is just the latest incident that Davenport Police have linked to the bar. Since January 1, 2019, police have responded to the bar 90 times. Of those 90 times, 46 were for disturbance or nuisance calls, six for assaults and three calls were for weapons.

"It has escalated dramatically,” Rowland said.

Rowland said the violence at Shenanigans has gotten worse and he is worried it is only a matter of time until someone dies He believes that Sunday night’s shooting could have been that incident.

"If that bullet would have been three inches lower, I would have had a dead body on my patio and that scares the hell out of me,” Rowland said.

Davenport city leaders have tried to revoke the bar’s liquor licenses several times. Each time an Iowa Administrative Law Judge has overturned the city’s decision.

"People have to start listening,” Third Ward Alderman Marion Meginnis said. “People in Des Moines and other places have to start listening to us. They just have to."

Meginnis represents the ward the bars are in and she wants change just as much as Rowland and Miller but she says the process could be a lengthy one.

"It is another incident,” Meginnis said. “It is another frustrating time downtown. It seems like a situation that does not have an easy resolution."

Other bars throughout downtown are calling for action and want Shenanigans shut down.

“It [issues at Shenanigans] consumes every one of my weekends,” Andy Lank, owner of Carriage Haus and Killkenny’s said. “I have to hear it from multiple people why aren't they shut down yet.”

Rowland said he is training his staff on how to handle incidents that may arise but he is fearful of the future based on the past.

"It scares me about what will happen in the future if we don't curb it now,” he said.

"Don't live in fear,” Miller said. “Just because one event happened doesn't mean it is going to happen again, but cautious of your surroundings."

A man by the name of Dominique Blankes, who identified himself as the DJ and prompter of Shenanigans, agreed to an on camera interview with TV6 regarding the incident. In a Facebook message to TV6 Investigates Chris Carter, Blankes wrote “it’s kind of sad you’d rather get told lies by people who never stepped foot in the club then the truth. You ever want a real interview from a person working there to explain everything including the reckless acts by ignorant people that come in there, let me know.” Carter agreed to the interview and set a time and location. Blankes did not show up and blocked all communication with Carter. Carter called the bar and was told to reach out to the bar’s attorney. A call to the attorney has not been returned.

Alderman Meginnis said she is meeting with other city leaders, and businesses to discuss a plan forward on how to handle Shenanigans but said she intends to vote against renewing the bar’s liquor license in the the future.

Davenport Police said they have several officers stationed near the bar every weekend. Meginnis said that it is a waste of taxpayer money and Rowland said it has done nothing to deter crime.

“The constant presence of police officers at my doorstep every Friday and Saturday night is getting really old,” Lank said. “There's a town for them to protect, not a bar. People no longer want to come down to my end of downtown. When you have an owner that doesn't command respect of his patrons they will dictate your business and we can clearly see that that is not working.”

Davenport Police have not said if any arrests have been made in Sunday morning’s incident.