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Police Respond to Claims of Unequal Treatment for ‘Problem Bars’

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Des Moines police are responding to accusations that they don't treat bar owners equally.

This stems from the latest liquor license suspension at J&J Pizza. At the request of police, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division suspended the business’ liquor license within two days of a shooting that injured five people.

That was the same action taken against the now closed 508 Club after a deadly shooting there in January. Within days, the bar lost its liquor license.

However Johnny Mac's Bar and Grill was allowed to continue serving alcohol despite a similar incident. A man was killed and two others injured in a shooting outside the bar last August.

Police calls to the three bars are also almost identical.

In the six months prior to the shootings police made six visits to both Johnny Mac's and J&J Pizza. Officer responded to five calls to the 508 Club.

Despite these similarities, the city renewed Johnny Mac's liquor license this year.  Des Moines police suggest that the difference is Johnny Mac's had an isolated case of violence while the others had repeated problems.

"There's a time for swift action and that's what we did with some of these other bars where we see a series of gun-related incidents or this case almost a mass shooting and homicides in the other case,” said Sgt. Paul Parizek with Des Moines Police.

He says the city is not opposed to J&J Pizza owner Jerry Berry attempting to start a new business, after he figures out the problems that plagued his current business.