Despite recent shootings, bar owners say Depot District is safe - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Despite recent shootings, bar owners say Depot District is safe

After Thursday's early morning shooting outside of Melt Lounge in the Depot District, bar owners in the area say it's still a safe place to enjoy a night filled with entertainment and fun. However several recent events have many questioning the safety of the Depot area.

In just three years there have been three major shootings in the area including one that ended in murder.

Back in October of 2010 police say there was a confrontation inside the Daiquiri Lounge, and when 22-year-old Zachary Matta walked out of the bar he was shot multiple times in the head, neck and chest by 19-year-old Renee Valencia. It was a bloody scene as Matta lied murdered in the road and five others had to be treated for gunshot wounds. Valencia is currently behind bars charged with Matta's murder.

More recently in April of this year, another shooting occurred at Klusoz on the corner of 18th and Buddy Holly just down the road from the Daiquiri Lounge. Police say a man was beat unconscious inside the bar, and moments later when another man walked out the door he was shot in the thigh.

This bar was already under investigation by the TABC because of a fatal car accident back in October of 2011. TABC investigators say bartenders at Klusoz over served Lubbock Doctor David Gonzalez-Gibler alcohol after he was already intoxicated. Investigators also say that Gonzalez-Gibler was with two teens that were also served alcohol at the bar. The night ended with Gonzalez-Gibler wrecking the car with the two teens inside. One of the passengers, 19year-old Samantha Martinez was ejected and died.

Another incident right outside of Melt Lounge caught nationwide attention this last June. It started when police say 17-year-old Kenny Jimenez robbed a group of girls at gunpoint in the alley near Melt. A police chase followed and Jimenez flipped the SUV he was driving. An 18-month-old toddler inside the SUV was thrown from the vehicle as it flipped. Amazingly the toddler survived with minor injuries.

Thursday's shooting that left five people injured outside of Melt is the most recent. Despite these violent crimes and deadly situations, bar owners throughout the Depot say it's unfortunate but things like this can happen anywhere at any time, not just in the Depot.

"If you take a group of 20 bars anywhere in town you can find instances like this. It's just these are all so close together that it is all lumped in to one, but they've all happened at separate places, and I don't think it's the Depot itself. It's just an area where there are a lot of bars," Firehouse general manager Michael Rico said.

Rico along with other owners in the area say there is no reason their customers should not feel safe when coming to the Depot. "At night the police presence is tremendous. They are here in cars, on horseback, on bicycles and you can't look anywhere down here without seeing them," Rico said.

However regardless of all the security guards in each venue and the police patrolling the streets, Rico says you can't prevent every dangerous situation that might occur. "The type of person that's going to open fire in a crowd of people isn't going to be deterred by security or by police. That type of person has no place in our society but it's unfortunate they're there," he said.  

Copyright 2012 KCBD. All rights reserved.

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