After another deadly weekend at several Wichita bars, police this morning say they are increasing their efforts to curb future violence at popular nightspots.
The first incident happened at the El Alacran Club near the corner of Seneca & Harry in southwest Wichita about 2:00 Saturday morning.
Police arrested 22-year-old Carlos Chavez and 20-year-old Rene Chavez after they allegedly drove a black truck through a crowd of people outside the bar. The brothers were reportedly denied entrance to the club, where members of a rival gang were located. Police say Rene Chavez was the driver.
Police say the two men hit three people in the crowded parking lot. Juan Martinez, 22, and Marilyn Arreola, 54, both died a short time later at the hospital. A 25-year-old woman was treated for a fractured pelvis.
Police say Arreola was an employee of the El Alacran club. A memorial fund has been set up in her name. You can contribute by donating at Intrust Bank.
Although police have had other incidents at the El Alacran club, they say it is not one of their more frequent offenders.
Early Sunday morning, police responded to Lightning Joe's Club at Kellogg & Ridge. Investigators say 21-year-old Larry Barnett was fatally shot in the parking lot after an argument with another man over a woman. Police arrested 26-year-old Jason Cruz, pictured below, in the 1900 block of South Water a short time later. Authorities recovered a stolen gun in the suspect's vehicle believed to have been used in the shooting.
Despite what seems like a rash of gang-related violence at nightclubs in recent weeks, police say incidents involving gangs are actually down year to date.
Earlier this month, police announced plans to draft new city ordinances that would make it harder to obtain and keep an alcohol license for problematic bars and nightclubs. Police say current city laws do not give them the leverage needed to shut down a bar where there are repeated cases of violence.
Police also say they will be doing more club inspections in the coming weeks, particularly on the weekends when many clubs see their biggest crowds.
Part of the plan includes cracking down on any bar serving alcohol to underage patrons. Police say they will be running undercover stings on bars where minors are believed to frequent.
In addition, police will soon be circulating a survey to bar owners asking how effective they feel their security is and what police can do to improve upon it.