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Geno’s has been trouble spot for police

Courtney Astolfi • May 20, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Sunday morning was hardly the first time violence broke out at a popular Cleveland Road hangout.

   Geno’s Party Center, formerly known as DJ’s Sports Bar, is closing down for good in the aftermath of a seven-person shooting and severe beating there this weekend.

   The location—which has operated as an after-hours, “private” club for years—has witnessed a host of brutal acts, both inside its walls and outside, in its lot.

   Sandusky police Chief John Orzech said officers have responded to the establishment almost 150 times since 2010, handling everything from shots fired to vicious beatings to underage drinkers running amok.

   Sandusky police have been well aware of the property’s problems and at times, extraordinarily frustrated by them. But Orzech said Monday there was little his department could do to on its own to remedy the issue.

   Geno’s existed in a gray area of the law because it operated as a private party facility. The location itself did not have a liquor permit, so guests had to supply their own booze. It oftentimes stayed open until 4 or 5 a.m., Orzech said.

   “If we went to (a downtown bar) for example, we can check and make sure they’re abiding by rules as part of their liquor permit. We weren’t able to do that at this place because they’re private,” Orzech said.

   In 2014 alone, officers handled more than 20 complaints at Geno’s—most of which occurred between 2 a.m. and sunrise, according to Sandusky police reports.

   Officers responded to one particularly noteworthy incident there in early March, finding a pool of blood on the floor after hearing a gunshot.

   Last July, nine shots rang out near the building and officers found two men fighting in the lot.

   In December, one unidentified man approached the bouncer with an AK-47 after a revolver was seized from his friend, one police report said. Just two weeks later, numerous spent shell casings were found in the lot after a heated fight between patrons.

   “Everyone goes out and has a good time drinking until 2 a.m., but then they’re supposed to go home, have some breakfast and go to bed. Here, the facility is open until 4, 5 o’clock in the morning—people are already intoxicated when they go there to drink.

   “People being more liquored up than they should causes some of the issues” Orzech said.

   When asked about problems migrating elsewhere in town with Geno’s now closing up shop, Orzech foresaw a few possibilities.

   “I don’t anticipate this moving into any of the other establishments in town, but it’s hard to say. Historically things move around depending on what’s open and what’s closed down. We will use all our resources to combat this situation and not let it affect our community” Orzech said.

   Sandusky’s top cop also believes Sunday’s shooting was a wake-up call.

   “This is a perfect example: innocent bystanders not engaged in any (criminal) activity we’re aware of, then they become victims of someone else,” Orzech said. “It’s not too late. They don’t need to be in those environments, putting their lives in jeopardy”

   “(The closing) is going to make a significant impact in the community, and I think it’s much needed” he said.

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