Days after two teens were shot in downtown Elyria — police reports mention the incident as happening near or around the Toy Box — coowner and manager David Caver said he is ready to have a face-to-face with police.
“It’s not the war zone that it is being made out to be,” he said. “I hope this meeting ends what appears to be a lack of communication between them and us.”
Inside the Broad Street business Monday afternoon, not much was going on inside the bar. A barmaid was cleaning up from a party the night before, and Caver was going over paperwork.
Posters on the walls displayed the images of popular R&B music acts and upcoming concerts.
Bottles of several brands of alcohol lined the shelves, and black and gold helium balloons floated on tables and the floor.
But there were other signs on the walls that Caver said were more indicative of the kind of business he is trying to run. Among them are awards and certificates from the Lorain County Urban League and the Elyria Club of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club commending his business ethics, and other signs warning patrons that suspicious behavior will be reported to the police.
“We don’t put a sign up that says ‘Please, criminals, come to the Toy Box,’ ” he said. “I just don’t know how we came to this.”
However, police say two separate incidents involving the establishment in recent months have brought the situation to where it is now.
Officers were called to the bar a little after 2 a.m. Friday for a report of shots fired and arrived to find two teenage males, who were outside in the area of the bar, with gunshot wounds to their legs.
Police Chief Duane Whitely said Monday afternoon that he has yet to speak with Caver about the incident or another on May 8 in which three teens were shot inside the bar.
Whitely said he would like to work with Caver to help the crime disappear while keeping the business itself.
Caver said he has a 2 p.m. meeting today with Capt. Dan Jaykel and said he hopes he can meet Whitely then, too.
“Years ago, a shooting or anything violent would never happen at a downtown business, and now it seems like shootings are normal,” Caver said. “I don’t know how we got to this. I just want to make it better.”
Caver said he opened the Toy Box seven years ago and since then has done a lot to increase safety and security in and around the bar. He has a surveillance video system in the bar that runs 24 hours a day.
When the club is open, bouncers and doormen use a metal-detecting wand to keep weapons out of the bar, and he has also instructed his bouncers to pat down patrons and check women’s purses.
“We go out of our way to make things go smoothly. Things do happen, but we are not the cause,” he said. “Banks are not the cause when they are robbed, so why are we?”
Caver said he believes officers will just say an incident is connected to the Toy Box just because it’s nearby and they need an address for a report. And that leaves a paper trail that leads right back to the Toy Box.
“We are just a good hardworking business with a good staff that is trying to do the right thing,” he said.
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or email@example.com.