Owner of troubled bar shuts it down after fatal shootings

Fort Wayne Police investigate a triple fatal shooting at the Sports and Spirits Bar on East Wayne Street early Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – 15 Finds Out has confirmed Sports and Spirits Bar and Grill is now closed. The owners voluntarily gave their liquor license back to the state and said they do not plan to reopen. Police called the closing “great news.”

Owner Burke Baughman released the following statement:

We are saddened by the tragic events that occurred at Sports Spirits. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims. We are cooperating with authorities to assist them in identifying the individuals responsible for this incident. We hope that they will be brought to justice.

We have voluntarily tendered our alcoholic beverage permit to the Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission to be placed in escrow. We do not plan to reopen the business. We appreciate the concern expressed by many of our loyal customers who have reached out to us.”

Before Tuesday, the battle over the liquor license for Sports and Spirits was being sent to the Indiana Court of Appeals. According to court documents, the appeal was sent to the Court of Appeals September 2 after a judge ruled in July that the bar’s license should not be renewed.

The bar was allowed to stay open during the appeals process and was the site of a shooting killed three people and hurt two more people early Tuesday morning. Police have lobbied for the bar to be shut down for years.

In September 2014, the Allen County Alcoholic Beverage Commission Board voted to not renew the bar’s license, citing more than 100 police calls in two years.

In the last ten years, the Fort Wayne Police Department has been called to the bar on E. Wayne Street 436 times. See full list here.

Breakdown of calls:

Shooting: 12
Stabbing: 7
Party Armed: 15
Battery: 15
Shots Fired: 19
Disturbance: 53
Fight: 28
Narcotics: 11

Before Tuesday morning, the last police call to the bar was for an armed robbery at 11:54 p.m. on August 30, 2016. The last shooting call was at 2:12 a.m. on May 22.

The Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission decided not to renew the establishment’s liquor license in early August 2015. But the bar’s owners, brothers Burke and Craig Baughman, filed an appeal. The bar lost that appeal in July of this year and in August filed another appeal to the Indiana Court of Appeals. See the court timeline here.

“No decisions have been made in that regard one way or the other.  We haven’t even considered it and likely won’t for some time.  The focus now needs to be on the victims and the investigation,” Baughman’s attorney told 15 Finds Out.

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