Christian Park neighbors tired of crime, take aim at bar’s liquor license

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Neighbors on the east side say a local bar is becoming a beacon for crime, and they want to see the place lose its liquor license.

In the past two years, two people were murdered at Bar 52, and this past week it was involved in another shooting. Police list the bar’s address in their report, but neighbors are hearing the shooting happened elsewhere, and a victim was taken to the bar. FOX59 is still working to confirm how the bar is involved.

“In this case, the facts are still out. We don’t know what happened. If they drove over there just to use the phone or get help, but the reality is enough is enough,” said Harlon Wilson, president of the My Christian Park Neighborhood Association (MCPNA).

In August 2018, David Ballinger was shot and killed after a fight at the bar spilled into the parking lot. Three days later, Derek Whitt was charged with the murder. A year after that arrest, 26-year-old Kenneth Keeylen was also fatally shot in the parking lot. He collapsed at a nearby Dairy Queen that is owned by Michael Spears.

“They’re doing their best to deter people from starting trouble, but sometimes that’s hard to do,” Spears told us during an interview in August of this year.

“We wanted to be a good partner. We love to support our businesses in Christian Park, but a year later we had a similar violent crime,” Wilson said.

MCPNA held two town halls in the wake of the two murders. Community leaders said the bar offered to make vast improvements, so the neighborhood voted to give them more time to fix the issues. Wilson said they added lights and cameras, while initially reducing their hours and paying for off-duty officers to be added security on weekends. Wilson went on to add that some changes began to fade, as witnesses said Keeylen stayed at the bar until 3 a.m. before he was killed this summer.

“They promised that they would close earlier. On that particular night they were not closed,” Wilson said.

The most recent incident this past week has only added to the push by neighbors to see the bar lose its license with the state.

We reached out to Bar 52 for comment, but the owner was not available to speak that day.  Wilson believes their license will not be reviewed until the most recent murder investigation is closed, as he said it can be used against them in those proceedings. MCPNA expects to be at that meeting when it occurs so they can advocate for the license removal.

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