YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The coordinator of a local event center is speaking out after four people were shot, one fatally, in the parking lot of the business early Tuesday morning.
Brandon Brown says roughly 300 people went to Vibez Restaurant and Event Center Monday night. But, it was after they closed, outside in the parking lot, when violence erupted.
“Everything was normal. There weren’t any arguments or confrontations inside. I actually was walking a couple patrons to their vehicles,” Brown said.
Then, a shootout began.
“It happened in about two seconds. It wasn’t an argument; it wasn’t a bunch of commotion. Just people pulled up on the street, it was some guys by the back fence line, and it just kind of happened real fast. They were two feet apart from each other,” he said.
Brown says the business does have security at the door, but often, people hang out in the parking lot and never enter the business. When the shooting happened, Brown says there were around 60 people in the parking lot. He says it’s hard to control who parks across the street and hangs out outside.
“It’s been an issue lately because we been getting an influx of business… My security, we can control the door and making sure people get to their cars safe, but when people are coming to hang out, they have the new law that anybody can have a gun now, it’s really hard to do your job,” he said.
When asked how this violence is affecting his business, Brown said the bigger issue is that a person lost his life and others were hurt.
“It’s bigger than my business, anytime somebody loses their life, but then it comes down to, what is really the root of the problem? Why are there so many guys with guns that are undereducated? They’re angry and violent, and nobody knows what to do,” Brown said.
Still, Brown says he does his best to give the Youngstown community a place to go and socialize, and violence like this makes it difficult for not only his business but other businesses as well.
“What is any business supposed to do? What is that Shell gas station supposed to do? What is Taco Bell supposed to do? It happens everywhere; it’s a culture thing,” he said.
In December, another man lost his life after a shooting occurred in the parking lot at Vibez. Brown says although there are never any issues inside the business, he is very concerned about what happens once people go outside.
“I’m just worried when people can go to their cars and they have access to guns. Or somebody waiting on a patron to come out because they have a personal beef with them… I walk out of here at nighttime, I hear gunshots three times a week just walking out of here coming from two streets down, on a regular basis,” Brown said.
Moving forward, Brown says he will have a Youngstown police car sitting outside at the time of closing to make sure people get to their cars safely and leave in a timely manner.