GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After a man was fatally shot in the parking lot outside the Chicken Coop last weekend, the owner of the S. Division Avenue restaurant has agreed to close earlier on Saturday nights.
Early last Sunday, trouble began inside the Chicken Coop on S. Division just north of Hall Street in Grand Rapids and spilled out to the parking lot, where 33-year-old Terence Hollis was shot. He died later at the hospital.
There have been a handful of homicides and violent incidents outside the Chicken Coop. Now, Grand Rapids Police Department Capt. Vincent Reilly said, business owners are cooperating with efforts to make the area more safe — including Gary Timmers, the owner of the Chicken Coop.
The biggest change will be the Chicken Coop’s hours of operation. Reilly says Timmers agreed to close the restaurant at midnight on Saturdays.
It’s something he has done in the past, only to go back to the old schedule when the number of violent incidents decreased.
Timmers has also agreed to changes including extra lighting and security cameras, Reilly said. Additionally, Chicken Coop workers will get training on how to handle potential problems.
The owners of parking lots north and south of the Chicken Coop have also agreed to allow police to close those lots Friday and Saturday nights to discourage large crowds from congregating after the bars let out.
GRPD is also preparing to have a more visible presence. A nearby parking lot will be home to its mobile command unit starting this weekend. The large, GRPD-blue, motor home-style vehicle will help keep an eye out for trouble in the area of Hall and Division.
“This will not be a covert operation. We’re not going to run surveillance,” Reilly, head of the South Service Area, said. “We want to emphasis that and let everybody know, ‘Hey, we’re out there, we’re very visible, we’re working the business.’ We’ll be there.”
Cameras on the mobile command unit will direct additional officers to problem areas. The sergeant in charge will decide how to respond to trouble.
But it won’t necessarily be a heavy-handed approach. Officers will be in regular uniform and on foot.
“Their objective is to provide presence and crowd control,” Reilly said. “If we see a very serious crime, we’ll take action. But the goal initially is to provide presence.”
One more concern from GRPD is that trouble may simply move elsewhere in response to the changes near the Chicken Coop, rather than dispelling altogether.
“We may displace the problem,” said Reilly, explaining the trouble may move to other parking lots up or down the road.
Reilly says GRPD’s plan is flexible. If the trouble moves, GRPD will be nearby.