LAWRENCE, Ind. — Police in Central Indiana are now investigating three potential overdose-related deaths.
Officers with the Lawrence Police Department in Marion County say one incident happened early Thursday morning at Lawrence Community Park and the other at the Sports Page Lounge.
Preliminary evidence from police shows fentanyl was involved in the first incident. However, one man said there are still a lot of questions surrounding what happened at the sports bar.
“I would never imagine that we are going through what we are today,” Dennis Lugar, owner of Sports Page Lounge, said.
Lugar said it was just another normal night of business when he got a call he will never forget.
“I was just waking up, kind of confused, looking at the cameras and I see the same thing, so I call 911,” he said.
On a live camera, Lugar saw two men on the floor of his bar. Both were unresponsive.
One of the men was Lugar’s bartender, Shawn Abel, and the other was one of his customers, Jeffery “Bear” Belttari. Both men were taken to a local hospital.
Police say 60-year-old Belttari died that same morning and 44-year-old Abel died over the weekend at the hospital.
“There are a lot of people around Lawrence,” Lugar said. “I’ve been around here my whole life and I have seen a lot of people go this way, and it’s sad.”
Just an hour prior to the bar overdoses, a few blocks away, police found two men in their 20s inside a car at Lawrence Community Park with drug paraphernalia. One was pronounced dead on the scene while the other was given Narcan and taken to the hospital where he survived.
“Right now, the deaths at the Sports Page are being investigated as suspicious deaths,” Lawrence Police Chief Gary Woodruff said. “There is really no overt or obvious indicator of substance abuse there like there was with the death at the back of Lawrence Park. We can’t definitively say those were drug overdoses at this point. They are certainly suspicious deaths.”
There is no indication yet if the two incidents are related but Woodruff said investigators are not ruling it out. The investigation is very active and police are hoping to find more answers from the bar’s security footage.
“Maybe they can see something in the parking lot or something that transpired that you couldn’t see by just being here,” Lugar said.
In the end, Lugar said the hope is to find who and what is responsible for these deaths.
“I just hope we can find out,” Lugar said. “Somebody knows something. If it’s anonymous or whatever, someone please come out and come forward. Someone needs to pay for this.”
The exact cause of the two deaths at the bar will be revealed once the toxicology reports are complete, which police said could take another few weeks.