FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Police arrested 27 people at the Hard Hitters Club on Avondale Drive early Saturday morning following an investigation into several violent crimes that happened at the club, including a homicide.
According to Fort Wayne Police Department spokesman Michael Joyner, the Fort Wayne Gang and Violent Crimes Unit, along with the Indiana State Excise Police, served a search warrant at 5001 Avondale Drive at 2:15 a.m.
Police said there were around 70 people inside of the club at the time. Detectives found around 200 grams of marijuana, four grams of cocaine, three grams of spice, and four handguns in the club.
According to Joyner, 17 people were arrested for visiting a common nuisance, six for possession of marijuana, six for miscellaneous warrants, two for maintaining a common nuisance, one for dealing cocaine, and one for possession of a synthetic drug.
Police arrested the club’s president, Larry Lawrence, 40, and the secretary of the club, Demetrius Carter, 29, both of Fort Wayne, each on a preliminary felony charge of maintaining a common nuisance. Both were taken to the Allen County Jail early Saturday morning.
Police have not released the names of the other people who were arrested.
Joyner said the FWPD began investigating Hard Hitters after several incidents happened at the club, including a homicide and other nonfatal shootings and stabbings.
“We had received good information about Hard Hitters and the type of activity that was going on. This is information that is being volunteered to us through our website, confidential informants, or calling Crimestoppers. The community is stepping up in a big way. You can see what happens when this information comes to us. We react to it, and if it’s good information, we can respond accordingly.” said Joyner.
Joyner said most of the members arrested have been linked to gang affiliations or shootings across the city.
Harold Mack and Bob Bergeron live in Ezekiel House, a transitional living home, down the street from Hard Hitters on Avondale Drive. Mack said he’s familiar with the lifestyle these members live.
“Me, myself, I’ve also did that type of activity. Now that I’m older, it just don’t make any sense,” said Mack.
Bergeron used to live in Michigan. He compares the problems of Fort Wayne to his hometown.
“I’ve watch Flint turn from a town a lot like Fort Wayne into what it is today, gangs, drugs, and take over,” Bergeron said.
Both Bergeron and Mack commend the police on their efforts to take out any crime in their community.
According to police, the latest incident at the club happened on December 28, 2013 when a club member was shot in the leg after a fight that happened inside the club.
Excise cited the club’s Temporary Beer and Wine permit on preliminary administrative charges including violating the scope of that permit by allowing the carryout of alcoholic beverages and serving liquor. The permit was also cited for Maintaining a Common Nuisance. Those charges will be reviewed by the Prosecutor for Indiana’s Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.
The FWPD was also assisted by the Allen County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Police, BATFE, Emergency Services Team, Allen County SWAT, and the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office with this investigation. This investigation is ongoing, according to police.