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Southside Neighbors Say Early Morning Shooting is One of Many Problems at Location

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Des Moines Police are investigating two shootings at two separate southside bars over the weekend. The most recent one being at the Wicked Rabbit located on SW Army Post Road.

Multiple people around the area today said they ‘aren’t surprised’ a shooting occurred at this location because of the bars history of incidents.

One person was injured in the shooting. Des Moines Police say an officer in the area heard gunshots shortly after 1:30 a.m.

Another officer stopped a vehicle nearby at SW 9th and Lally. There was a male suffering from a gunshot wound inside. The victim was taken to a Des Moines hospital and he is expected to survive. No arrests have been made in the case.

Following the shooting, the bar posted a sign on its door that “Due To Poor Behavior We Will Be Closed Next Sunday! Night!”

Cheese Castle owner, Mike Pesce, says there’s been numerous altercations that occur at this particular bar. His local pizza joint is located right next door to the Wicked Rabbit.

“Since I’ve been here, five times. That’s too much, you know,” Pesce said.

One of those incidents was another shooting a few years back. A stray bullet left a dent right above his front door. Cheese Castle and Wicket Rabbit share an inside window, and Pesce says he gets a lot of customers from their bar.

“We are their kitchen, they are our dining room, so we work together,” Pesce said. “It’s a unique set up we have we do work together and they are good people.”

Pesce says new management took over the Wicked Rabbit around seven months ago. Some changes has been made since to try and stop these problems, like adding extra security, but it’s not working.

“I know the landlord put more lighting in the parking lot thinking that would help as well. So there has been some measures taken, and I mean, I know anything can happen, but over the years there has been some issues on Sunday night,” Pesce said. Sunday night, he says, is hip hop night.

“They have a really good regular crowd. It’s just Sunday night’s is just, it’s hip hop or dance maybe, so it’s a little bit different on Sunday nights,” Pesce said.

As for the neighbors that live just steps away from the bar, they say the issues are non stop. No one was willing to speak on camera, but described instances of blaring music from cars shaking their house, to people leaving the bar and urinating on their lawn.

Des Moines Police Sergeant Paul Parizek says it’s a tricky situation when dealing with an establishment that is a reoccurring issue.

“I mean when you start seeing these issues and you’ve got over 30 calls to this one address in six months, it definitely pops up in our radar,” Sgt. Parizek said.

It’s even affecting surrounding businesses. This morning a restaurant across the street came to work only to find shattered glass in their parking lot. The owner says they always have to clean up after Sunday nights.

“The neighbors, they see the name of the place changed and they see the ownership change, and they get excited that these problems aren’t going to continue. But if the ownership and management don’t change their expectations in allowances for behavior, you’re just putting lipstick on a pig and it’s the same thing with a different name,” Sgt. Parizek said.

The Wicked Rabbit was not open by noon Monday like it states online.

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