Club shooting latest violence on South Side bar circuit

Bob Bauder
| Monday, Oct. 24, 2011

A Pittsburgh city councilman said a weekend shooting at a crowded Station Square nightclub is the latest example of an out-of-control nightlife scene on the South Side.

An unidentified gunman shot two people — a man and a woman — about 1:35 a.m. Saturday inside the Zen Social Club, in the Freight Shops at Station Square. Police estimated 700 people where in the club at the time.

A city police officer directing traffic outside the club was struck about an hour later by a drunken driver, police said.

Police were not releasing the names of the shooting victims on Sunday, but said the man, who suffered four gunshot wounds in the stomach and two in a hand, remained in critical condition. A bullet grazed the woman's leg, they said.

Zone 3 Officer Edward Polly, who suffered back and leg injuries when struck by a sport utility vehicle, was treated at UPMC Mercy, Uptown, but the hospital had no information about his condition. Police said his injuries were not life-threatening.

State police, who witnessed the incident, charged Colin M. Hennen, 27, of the Allentown nieghborhood with drunken driving and aggravated assault. Police reported that Hennen ran a stop sign at West Station Square Drive and struck Polly. He had a blood-alcohol level of 0.191 percent, they said. The legal limit is 0.08 percent.

Councilman Bruce Kraus, who lives in South Side Flats, said his District 3 office has received numerous complaints about Zen and other Station Square bars. He said the shooting was a symptom of a larger overall problem with people frequenting South Side bars and clubs, especially on weekends.

"This wasn't an isolated incident, and it didn't happen in a vacuum," Kraus said yesterday. "This whole bar scene south of the river is spiraling out of control."

Zen, which opened in 2008, bills itself as the only nightclub in Pittsburgh open until 3:30 a.m., according to its website. Hours are 10 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Management did not respond to phone and e-mail requests for comment.

Forest City Management, which owns the Freight Shops, did not return a phone call.

South Side Flats leads the city in incidents of violent crime — which includes homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — with 147 reported in 2010, according to Pittsburgh Police Bureau statistics.

Kraus, who introduced legislation early this year earmarking $100,000 to help deal with South Side nightlife, said his office recently met with Forest City representatives to discuss the complaints. He said the representatives were aware of the problems and promised to resolve them.

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