Des Moines Country Bar Owner Mourning Lives Lost In California Shooting

DES MOINES, Iowa -- As the nation mourns the twelve who died in a California shooting at a country-style bar, the tragedy hits close to home for a similar bar in downtown Des Moines.

"Your heart goes out to all the victims and their families with a tragedy like that,"  said, Ted Hawley who owns one of Des Moines' most popular country-style bars called Beer Can Alley.  It is located on the third floor of the Court Center building.  Hawley realizes Des Moines is not immune to such violence.  "We spend north of $125,000  on just the third floor for security."

Some nights over 800 people are on the third floor which also houses his other bar, The Exchange and with nearly twenty security guards roaming both establishments some are hidden from view and armed.  "There are some guys perched up out of sight, out of mind and if a situation like that did occur here we do have procedures in place to stop that as soon as possible," Hawley said.

Bar security staffers are not alone. Increased mass shootings have also increased training among Des Moines police.  Sergeant Paul Parizek said, "We made the transition several years ago to having a full-time swat team and to having a response team and training all street cops for an active shooter response."

California investigators say the suspected shooter, Ian David Long killed himself after killing a dozen, including Ventura County Sheriff Sergeant Ron Hulus.  It is a risk Des Moines metro police know all too well.  "It is very tough for any officer to read that because you know that could be you," Parizek said.

Hawley and the Des Moines police feel precautions are not a cure-all but they can be the first line of defense.  "You can't stop bad people.  They are just bad people who want to do bad things but all you can do is be as prepared or as ready as you can," said Hawley.