MANSFIELD -- Nearly two-and-a-half months following a shooting at The Patio on Park Avenue, the Mansfield bar is still recovering.
Bar owner, David Harmon said the incident prompted him to adjust the bar’s hours and continue stringent security measures, including pat-downs for a portion of the evening, but these precautions haven’t brought people back to the once booming bar.
“It’s hard to recover from. We were set up to the best of our ability without (off-duty) police support, and we were just unlucky,” Harmon said. “So I took luck out of the situation. I took us out of the equation.”
Immediately following the April shooting outside the bar, he changed The Patio’s last call to 10 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends in an effort to avoid the “less desirable” crowds. The bar had previously stayed open through 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
While this has hindered profits, Harmon refuses to re-open for later hours without being able to hire an off-duty police officer for security. But he's been unable to make that happen.
“We’ve attempted since day one to get the Mansfield Police Department to allow us to hire an off-duty officer, but were told in Mansfield, they don’t allow it,” Harmon said. “And without police support, I don’t want to open myself to those late-night hours and put myself in that situation.
“I want to be able to tell someone they can’t come in, and them actually listen. I’d be able to do that better with an off-duty police officer (as customers would fear arrest).
Mansfield Police Chief Keith Porch confirmed this policy.
"There is a historical policy of our police not being security when the sole purpose of the establishment is serving liquor," Porch said. "However, we are researching the possibility of doing that at the moment."
In the early hours of Sunday, April 7, Tyron Gray Jr. suffered a gunshot wound to the head outside of The Patio, located at 1349 Park Avenue West. The 21-year-old man was transported to OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital, where he was listed in “critical condition” that afternoon, according to hospital spokesperson Christina Thompson. Gray survived but there's no update available on his health condition.
As of June 21, no suspects have been identified publicly, according to the Mansfield Police Department.
In a Facebook post following the incident, Harmon addressed his customers, encouraging prayers for the victim and explaining that the individuals involved in the incident had been denied entrance to the bar past the security checkpoint.
“Saturday night into Sunday morning there was an extremely long line to get into our establishment. We identified people in the line that had previously been banned from our premises mixed with a handful of people we had never seen before carrying out-of-state licenses,” he said. “Mansfield as a community has been dealing with an influx of unwanted traffic from other states. We’ve been in business long enough to identify and know when potential patrons could cause a problem prior to entry.
“That is why we asked that large group of individuals to leave and never allowed them past the security entrance. We asked repeatedly, they refused, and tried to barge through the security entrance. Our security team was able to successfully force them back outside.
“We won’t speculate what the fight outside was about. Three shots were fired from outside the bar at an individual who was also outside of the bar. The large group of individuals who were denied entry then all immediately left the premises.”
While a fight broke out in line for security, the shooting happened outside the bar, he emphasized.
“Basically, we’ve treated the door like TSA (Transportation Security Administration). And I think it’s because of these precautions that nobody got hurt inside that night,” he said.
The Patio on Park Avenue opened in the summer of 2018, after Harmon remodeled the space formerly occupied by Goodfellows. Even then, Harmon had emphasized plans to “create a safe environment.”
Recently, he’s shifted his focus to building a happy hour and “after-work crowd,” but the sheer lack of customers has kept the kitchen closed.
“For now, we’re just trying to make money the hard way,” he said.
According to the initial press release, due to the large crowd and the probability of witnesses, Mansfield Police are still seeking more information about this incident. Anyone with information is encouraged to call Lt. Robert Skropits at 419-755-9755.