Broad Ripple locals discuss safety concerns

Broad Ripple bars lose business due to recent shooting. Photo courtesy of WTHR


Broad Ripple, home to 17,000 residents as well as restaurants, shops and bars popular with university students, has turned into the crime scene of violent incidents in recent years. The most recent shooting, on March 16 inside Landsharks, left one dead and five others injured. 

As downtown Broad Ripple feels the absence of the usual weekend night crowds, locals reassure visitors that veteran establishments are a safe haven for both day and nighttime recreation. 

“A brewing problem”

Rob Sabatini is the owner and manager of three bars in Broad Ripple — Rock Lobster, Mineshaft Saloon and Average Joe’s Sports Pub & Grill. He has been living in Broad Ripple since 1992 and describes the area as a “vibrant and happy” community. Despite his love for the area, Sabatini acknowledges the various downfalls the area has and understands why visitors may shy away from investing in the local businesses. 

“When you have people loitering on the streets, smoking weed, drinking and, ultimately, carrying guns, most sane, responsible people are going to shy away from that and find someplace else to spend their money,” Sabatini said. 

In the wake of a shooting in June 2023 where three people were killed, bar and restaurant owners in Broad Ripple started continuously meeting in search of a solution to mitigate public safety risks. The business owners agreed to a 1 a.m. curfew, which lasted until July, and many also stopped hosting day parties and limited the use of promoters. Sabatini claims Landsharks did not follow all these newly-established safety protocols and considers it a “poorly-run establishment.” 

William Cassner, a “proud” Broad Ripple resident and ’23 Butler alumnus, agreed with Sabatini, and said he found the bar had relaxed security. He even said he once saw a customer with a gun sticking out of their pocket. Despite his experience at Landsharks, he believes that the area is safe and continues to frequent downtown Broad Ripple multiple times a week for lunch, dinner and the bar culture. 

Cassner said the area does not deserve all of the media attention it gets. 

“I think a lot of the fear and anxiety gets overplayed … because it is so close to Butler, and where a lot of other students go,” Cassner said. “Sometimes I think the violence here gets overreported because it gets a lot of attention.” 

Senior biochemistry major Reagann Meyers frequents Broad Ripple on Wednesday and Thursday nights and said she feels comfortable going out with friends. She thinks the visibility of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department helps to lower criminal activity in the area, but could also add to the increased concern of violence in the downtown area. 

“Having more police would help with the crime,” Meyers said. “However, if you’re just trying to have a chill night and you see a whole bunch of police, it can make people more and more concerned. And it makes people want to go out less because they see police and they get scared like a lot of people are afraid … It changes the vibe of going out.” 

Moving forward 

Since the shooting on March 16, Sabatini said that his sales have dropped nearly 50-75%. He said he has always aimed to provide a safe experience at the bars he owns through becoming very present at his establishments. Sabatini said he walks around each of his bars, picking up cups and cans, and also, “making sure everyone’s behaving.” For security measures, the bars Sabatini owns have bouncers and use hand-held metal detectors on everyone that walks into the establishments. 

Sabatini said that as long as bars maintain their usual safety protocols, bar-goers will be safe from shootings. He believes the other bar owners who remain in Broad Ripple make a conscious effort to prioritize safety in an effort to keep Broad Ripple out of news headlines. 

Although bars are taking precautions, Cassner has taken it upon himself to institute his own safety measures. He stated that since most of the shootings occur in the earliest hours of weekend mornings, he has a self-initiated curfew of 1 a.m.. He also will always go out with one or more people. 

Cassner believes that the only way to maintain a safe environment for bar-goers is for the Broad Ripple Village Association, BRVA, to enforce uniform safety protocols onto all businesses in Broad Ripple, especially bars, before more shootings occur due to relaxed safety measures. 

“When [BRVA] is implementing more safety measures, and they’re like, ‘We don’t want [violent incidents] to happen,’ but then people can still get into Landsharks, that’s the problem,” Cassner said. “There’s always been one or two stragglers when it comes to safety and bendable measures that make people feel like they can keep getting away with [not enforcing proper safety protocols].” 

Sabatini said he is confident that Broad Ripple will continue to be a safe place for visitors when they choose to return. 

“I just hope that as time goes on, that people just feel more and more secure in the fact that Broad Ripple is moving forward in a positive direction, and I think that as time goes on, that will prove to be the case,” Sabatini said. 


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