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Gunshots fired near local bar

Claire Heininger | Monday, September 6, 2004

Gunfire near a popular student bar early Sunday morning confused patrons and left two victims wounded with minor leg injuries, police said.

The shooting occurred on the 100 block of East Wayne Street at approximately 2:58 a.m. Though Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students were in attendance at The Library Irish Pub, neither victim was a student, said Captain John Williams, public information officer for the South Bend Police Department.

The Library – popularly known as Finnegan’s – is located at 113 East Wayne, but Williams said he did not know if the shooter or victims were inside the bar at any point.

One suspect was arrested and transported to the St. Joseph County Jail, Williams said. Though he was unable to comment on specific charges against the alleged shooter, Williams confirmed that preliminary charges were forwarded to the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office Sunday.

Williams said he and four other officers were stationed near the intersection of Michigan Street and East Wayne Street in downtown South Bend when a woman alerted them to a fight starting around the corner near The Library. As the officers arrived on the scene, between six and nine shots were fired, causing bar patrons and onlookers to scatter on the sidewalk.

Inside the bar, word of mouth spread fast.

“Really you didn’t get to see anything,” said senior Jacque Wilson, who added that the music also drowned out any sound of the shots. As patrons who had spotted the police cars and ambulances told the crowd about the shooting, Wilson and her friends moved to the back of the bar and clustered around the pool tables, she said. Library owner Chuck Hammons circulated through the bar explaining the situation to his confused guests, Wilson said.

After about 15 to 20 minutes, patrons were sent out through a side door to seek cab rides home instead of through the chaotic front entrance, she said.

Despite rumors inside The Library that up to four people had been shot, Wilson said she never felt endangered.

“It was definitely a secure situation,” she said. “At no point did we think something horrible would happen to us.”

She added that she would not be discouraged from attending The Library in the future because the incident could have occurred anywhere.

“It could’ve just as likely happened at [The] Boat [Club] or [The] State [Theatre] or Heartland,” Wilson said. “It’s kind of the risk you face going out in any city.”

It was not immediately clear who initiated the fight or provoked the shots, Williams said, adding that details of the shooting are under police investigation.

A vehicle belonging to the suspect was also impounded at the scene, he said.

Williams could not confirm whether shots had been fired from the car but did not rule out the possibility.

Both victims were released from the hospital after being treated for their wounds, Williams said.

Though he saw Hammons on the street, Williams said he did not speak with the owner. The Observer was unable to reach Hammons for comment.