BY HILLARY GAVAN
Senior Staff writer
BELOIT - Despite a shooting early Sunday morning, loyal customers were back to Rooney's Pub and Grub this morning for Sunday dinner to show support and enjoy the specials.
A 36-year-old Beloit man was shot several times while in the Beloit bar shortly after 1 a.m. today, Sunday, April 14.
The victim is in stable condition at a local hospital, according to a news release from Beloit director of strategic communications Sarah Millard. The shooting occurred at about 1:02 a.m. at Rooney's Pub and Grub, 65 Portland Ave.
The shooter reportedly fled the scene in a dark colored SUV.
Rooney's co-owner, Glenda Kline who has owned the business with her husband Dave for 26 years, said employees reported a group of several black males came in the bar the previous evening following a comedy show. The men, who no one recognized as having been in the bar previously, appeared to be targeting another man who they later shot outside of the bar in the beer garden.
It was a big shock for Kline who said the bar has been a safe family establishment for years. Although there had been a robbery there, she said it's been mostly quiet. She said signs line the place stating the bar's rules and security personnel are always present at events. She said she has been concerned that other bars have been closing up early due to fights, with their clientele sometimes seeking another bar to visit in the wee hours. However, Kline said the bar has remained safe thus far. She is working with police and is confident the perpetrators will be caught.
Kline said the shooting has been emotional for staff. Kline said her heart goes out to the victim and his family. She said she is hoping customers will still come out to the bar she and her husband have kept running since March 8, 1994.
On Sunday afternoon, the bar was already filled with customers again, some of which were toddlers and seniors. Bruce Hartley and his mother Joanne Hartley were eating fried smelt and chicken wings.
"I don't even drink, and I come here every Sunday," Bruce Hartley said.
Bruce and Joanne Hartley were joined by Stephanie Burkhardt, Rachel Burkhardt, Mary Varney and Diamond Hartley. Bruce and his mother said they had just heard the news of the shooting but it wouldn't deter them from frequenting the place. Bruce Hartley said violence can happen everywhere, in or out of a bar, and it's not a reflection on Rooney's or the good people who run the establishment.
Customers and fans Ben Hubka and Aaron Wood said the bar is like a family. Rooney's offers certain specials on each day, attracting regulars each day.
"Everyone's religious about the day they like to come," Wood said.
Although the men said the shooting was disappointing, they said the men who were after the victim could have tracked him down at any bar. Mike Kamppi and Stephanie Kluck said when they heard about the shooting on social media they came right over to their favorite place. The two said they come to the bar about three times a week.
"I love it here," Kluck said.
Anyone with information about the shooting or the vehicle is asked to call 608-757-2244 or submit a tip online at www.p3tips.com/tipform.aspx?ID=482.
Beloit police are investigating the shooting. No further information was available this morning.