Concerns about ongoing crime and quality-of-life issues in the area surrounding the Bentz Street Sports Bar in Frederick have led to dozens of complaints from residents, culminating in outrage over a shooting outside the bar earlier this month.
“Clearly, an incident like that causes concern in the community, and rightfully so,” Frederick Police Chief Kim Dine said.
Police arrested Derrick Welmon Nash, 23, of Frederick for allegedly firing the weapon. He was charged with two counts of reckless endangerment, one count of possession of a handgun, one count of transporting a handgun in a vehicle and discharging a firearm within the city limits.
Nash is currently being held on an $850,000 bond, according to online court records.
To help allay some of the neighborhood’s fears, the Frederick Police Department and the Frederick County Board of License Examiners, or liquor board, held a joint meeting Tuesday night to allow residents to ask questions and express their concerns.
About 40 residents turned out for the meeting to complain to officials that bar-goers are damaging their plants, leaving trash on their property and making noise late at night.
Dine encouraged residents to inform police when such incidents occur, so the department could better track problems in the area. In the last year, he said the department has made 652 arrests in Neighborhood Advisory Council 11, where the Bentz Street Sports Bar is located.
Dine said part of the problem is the concentration of liquor licenses in Frederick — 150 of the 315 county liquor licenses are located within city limits.
One of those frustrated residents was Debbie Linich, who said the quality of life in her neighborhood has steadily declined in the last year.
“Someone has to be held accountable, and they need to answer,” she said. “My neighborhood has been destroyed in the last year.”
David Schiller, a co-owner of the Bentz Street Sports Bar who was on hand to answer questions Tuesday night, told residents that “the customers I want are not the customers that are causing the problem.”
“I did not purchase the business and building to have these issues. I don’t want these issues. I want safety. I want the neighbors happy,” Schiller said.
Schiller said he was willing to try to make changes based on the neighbors’ complaints, but he didn’t think the current entertainment at the bar was the source of the problem.
“Reggae music doesn’t bring in people with guns,” he said.
But Frederick police Sgt. Earl Rocca, who helps oversee the department’s night shift, disagreed.
“If we have a criminal element, it’s the entertainment that’s going on there,” he said. “You are attracting a certain element with that entertainment.”