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Long before weekend shooting, Sky Lounge in Akron was ‘problem location’

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 9:43 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Two people were shot at an Akron bar over the weekend. And an investigation shows that the establishment has brought chaos to the neighborhood almost as soon as it opened.

The efforts to shut the Sky Lounge on East South Street began several weeks before two people were shot at the bar this last weekend.

The establishment is facing six citations from state investigators, many of which stem from serving alcohol after hours:

  • On May 22, the bar was cited for not having a food service license
  • On April 25, Akron police say people were drinking alcohol after hours, liquor was delivered after hours, and there was improper conduct, including disorderly conduct and drug use
  • On June 27 and July 3, Akron police say the bar hindered or obstructed an inspection
  • A day later on July 4, police say the bar again hindered an inspection and people were again drinking and delivering beer after hours

New data from Akron Police show officers have responded to the Sky Lounge at least 34 times since May.

In the last 14 weeks, police got eight calls about shots fired and countless calls about parking problems and reckless driving. They also received three calls about public urination in the street or neighbor’s yards.

“They don’t care,” said Kathy Wilkins, who lives just a few doors down from the bar. “They don’t care where they park, they don’t care where they go to the bathroom.”

“It was just like a traveling show, like a circus,” she said.

19 Investigates discovered that Akron City Council began talking about the issues happening at the Sky Lounge in June.

“They have hijacked this neighborhood,” said Councilwoman Tara Samples in a meeting on June 28th.

And, just days before two people were shot the over the weekend, city council passed a resolution, declaring a safety emergency and opposing the renewal of the business’s liquor license.

“Hopefully we can get some traction here dealing with a very difficult property,” one councilman said.

But, problems persisted even after that.

“It’s only a matter of time before a neighbor around here gets shot,” one neighbor told 19 Investigates on Monday.

“When the bars close at 2:30 everywhere else, this is where they are coming,” he said.

The call log shows most requests for help coming around three or four in the morning. Police often refer to the place as an “after-hours joint,” saying “this is a problem location every weekend.”

Late Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after our 19 News investigation into the bar aired, a resident sent us a picture of a locksmith parked in front of the Sky Lounge.

Someone, possibly the owner of the building, was apparently having the locks changed.

Perhaps that will keep the bar from operating after-hours. Neighbors hope so.

“I need to get some sleep,” Wilkins said. “Other people need to get some sleep.”

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