Grieving mother wants bar to lose liquor license after mass shooting

CLEVELAND - The Cleveland City Council voted unanimously to file a formal objection to the renewal of the liquor license held by an east side bar whose parking lot played host to a mass shooting late July.

The shooting outside DPG Lounge near East 194th Street and St. Clair Avenue killed 27-year-old Cortez Ruffin and injured six more.

Ruffin’s mother is urging the Ohio Division of Liquor Control to decline to renew the bar’s liquor license as well, alleging the bar failed to break up a large gathering of people before the shooting.

In the early morning hours of July 26, a large crowd of people began to swell on the parking lot of the DPG Lounge following the filming of a local rapper’s music video. Police estimated the crowd to be near 100 people. At some point, two women began fighting when Ruffin tried to step in and break up the fight.

RELATED: 7 people shot outside Cleveland bar following music video shoot 

According to police, another man then opened fire into the crowd, resulting in Ruffin being shot. Bystanders then began rendering first aid to Ruffin before another man, Kelend Jones, allegedly stood over Ruffin and fired several more times.

Ruffin was shot a total of 10 times, his family said. He died at the hospital a week later. Jones was arrested and charged with murder in early August.

The bar remains open.

“To lose a child is the worst thing that can happen to anybody. I wouldn’t wish this nightmare on nobody,” said Nicole Foster, Ruffin’s mother. “It’s hard for me to sleep. When I do go to work, I hardly want to get out of bed. I do it because I have an eight-year-old son.”

Ruffin was the second oldest of four boys. Foster said Ruffin was as family-oriented as can be, often dropping by his mother’s Cleveland home several times a day. If he didn’t visit her, he’d call her multiple times a day. Ruffin was kind, funny and fiercely loyal of his friends and family.

Foster said the DPG Lounge needs to be held accountable for letting the gathering get out of hand.

“If that bar would have called the police when the crowd got as wild as it did and escalated as far as it did… and if they would have done what they needed to do as far as calling the police, yes, I know he would still be alive,” Foster said. ”[Bar owners] went on about their lives. The bar is still going. Everything is back to regular. They are getting their money. Somebody else’s child might get shot."

Because the DPG Lounge is trying to renew its liquor license, only municipalities have the option of formally objecting. By doing so, a hearing will be held if the bar chooses to renew its license. At that point, it will be the municipality’s burden to prove why the bar’s license should be revoked, state officials said. 

To date, no hearing has been set.

The bar’s owner has not responded to requests for comment.

“If you are familiar with the neighborhood and lived in the neighborhood, you could come in [the bar] with a gun,” Foster said. “If not, you could put the gun outside around the bar and go in.”

According to News 5 archives, there was another fatal shooting outside the bar in September 2017.

“You have two families that have lost their loved ones over their lack of security, safety. I don’t think they should be open anymore,” Foster said.

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