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Herrin, IL

Gunfire Outside Club Ice

Gunfire Outside Club Ice
By: Arnold Wyrick
Herrin, IL - The owners of Club Ice opened its door to teens in Southern Illinois back in April. And club owner John Graskewicz says things were going great. "When we opened we were looking for a safe place for kids to come and have a good time. Be able to dance, play some games, have fun. And for 95% of the kids it works for them. But that 5% has ruined it for everyone," Graskewicz said.
The problems in the club began about two weeks ago. That's when Graskewicz says a certain clientele began frequenting the club. "It's a matter of keeping out the gangs, we can't keep them out," Graskewicz said.
Things got out of control on Saturday night just around closing time.
"At the end of the night everyone was leaving and a car backed into a parking space in front of the club. Some guys got out and took off down the alley. And the next thing we heard was four gun shots," Graskewicz said.
Two of his employees were in the alley at the time they shots rang out, they ran back inside the club for safety. Tense moments followed the echo of gunfire for everyone, including police.
"It was disturbing to us, to have to go to a call where you've got a lot of teenagers and young kids running around, where you've had shots fired. Fortunately nobody was injured, nobody was struck with any of the bullets," says Chief Mark Brown of Herrin Police Department.
Police arrested 4 men and recovered two handguns at the scene. Those arrested are Matthew Bradford, 18, of Metropolis; Aaron Bowman, 19, of Metropolis; Brandon Pratt. 17, of Mounds; and Alshwante Wiggins, 21, of Mounds. The four young men face charges of unlawful use of a weapon, and possession of a firearm without a valid FOID card. Wiggins has also been charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm.
Police are looking for the other suspects who they believe were involved in the shooting incident at Club Ice. "We haven't been able to identify the other group. So we're asking anyone with information about those individuals to please contact our office," Chief Brown said.
Meanwhile teens in Herrin had mixed feelings about Club Ice, and what it offered to them.
"I went in one time, but I didn't know anyone in there. And it seemed very violent, the cops have to go there a lot. And it's just not my scene at all," says Michelle Pittman of Herrin.
"The club it's all right there's a lot of friends in there. I didn't think there was going to be that much trouble in there like that, not a shooting or anything like that," says Todd Hileman of Herrin.
The club owners didn't think they'd ever have to deal with gunfire in the dance club either, and have decided to close it's doors for good.
"To keep our customers safe, to keep our employees safe, their safety is more important to us then a dollar is to us. And at this point we realize it's no longer a safe place for the kids to congregate," Graskewicz said.
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