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Output Lounge Not To Blame For Shooting Outside, Commander Says

By Alisa Hauser | May 3, 2016 4:00pm
 A special community meeting was held on May 2 to address neighbor concerns after an April 23 shooting outside of Output Lounge.
Output Lounge Special Meeting, May 2, 2016
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WEST TOWN —  A man shot in the neck outside the Output Lounge last month had been drinking inside the West Town sports bar that night, but police say it bears "no culpability" for the violence.

The April 23 shooting was labeled "gang-related." Near West (12th) Police District Cmdr. Ed Kulbida told residents Monday night it was a personal beef, not a gang-on-gang crime.

"This gentleman who was standing outside smoking a cigarette, got in an argument with two subjects, he was winning the fight, he ordered one of the other subjects to go get a gun and shot him," Kulbida said.

When asked by a resident if the shooting was "isolated" or "systemic," Kulbida replied, "I wish I could answer you; there are certain things going on and certain information I can't give out. It wasn't gang on gang but was more personal, an action on one person that did something in the past."

Kulbida addressed a packed meeting of some 50 people concerned about the shooting Monday, including Output Lounge's owner. The victim survived the shooting. No one is in custody.

After Kulbida confirmed that the man who was shot, a convicted felon who is on federal parole, had been in the bar at 1758 W. Grand Ave. drinking prior to the incident, a resident asked, "How can you say the bar was not at fault if he was in the bar before he was shot?"

"If someone walked outside of Mariano's or Jewels and got shot outside of there after having a fight, do you say Mariano's or Jewels is culpable? There is nothing the bar did that would enhance the situation outside," Kulbida said.

Eddie Gutierrez, owner of Output Lounge said that the incident was the first of its kind in the bar's history and as a result, he is conducting interviews with a security firm to beef up safety.

"To hear that I am attracting gangs and stuff, that's not who I am, that's not the kind of business I run. We do our best to screen people at the door. As far as that night, we had no incidents inside of the bar, there was no fights, nobody had to be separated. We had no reason to think that anything was wrong," Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said that the bar staff was cleaning up and preparing to close around 1:50 a.m. when they "heard a commotion up in front."

Gutierrez said many of Output Lounge patrons are professional people.

"We have a Latino law organization that does a meeting there, a police group. I have good people that come to my restaurant. They love the food, the atmosphere, they feel safe," he said.

Kulbida told the group that he researched the incident and Output Lounge had "no culpability."

Another factor that played a role in the investigation was the Output Lounge's 911 call log. 

From Oct. 27, 2015 to April 27, 2016, Kulbida said there were five calls for service, three for auto accidents, one was a burglar alarm which officers issued a citation, and one was an ambulance call.

Though complaints about loud noise, litter and people loitering in the streets appeared to be the bulk of residents' concerns, Kulbida pointed out that 911 had gotten "not one call about loud music or a disturbance inside the bar."

Kulbida said there are over 400 liquor establishments in the Near West District, which spans 10 square miles.

"Anytime there is a problem, whether it be on Randolph Street or a little mom-and-pop establishment on Ashland, I bring them in and I express my concerns, because I feel I am your voice. You guys call me and your voice comes to me. If they have a liquor license, I let them know there are problems we have to correct or I am going to go to the next steps," Kulbida said.

Brett Robinson, a resident of the 500 block of North Wood Street, said "litter is happening every week," and "people are taking pictures of it."

Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) said that his office has received no calls or emails complaining about Output Lounge and no pictures [of litter].

Moreno told a resident who had a beer bottle thrown through their car window outside the bar that it is "absolutely a 911 call" and encouraged residents to call 911 and document their concerns.

The meeting location in the Goldblatt's building, 1625 W. Chicago Ave. was selected because it is a neutral location. 

Coincidentally, the Chicago Grand Neighbors Association, which coordinated the special meeting, holds its monthly meetings in the Output Lounge's back room. Gutierrez donates the space to the neighborhood group, Lyn Wolfson, the group's president said.

Wolfson said the CGNA's next meeting is set for May 18 and it will be at Output Lounge.

Output Lounge, 1758 W. Grand Ave. in West Town. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

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