Chamber President Says Business Owners Want To Overcome The South Side's Partygoing Perception

May 22, 2017

The president of the South Side Chamber of Commerce said he feels the popular bar district is still a safe place despite a deadly shooting inside the Rowdy Buck bar early Sunday morning.

“People ask me about what’s going on down there,” said South Side Chamber of Commerce President Chuck Reese. “I feel safe. I don’t have any issues with coming down here.”

Rowdy Buck, a popular bar on Pittsburgh's East Carson Street, was closed Monday afternoon after a shooting left a West Mifflin man dead shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, May 21, 2017.
Credit Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Authorities are currently investigating the fatal shooting. 

Officials said a passerby told an officer working a detail at nearby Thirteen Eleven that shots were fired inside Rowdy Buck shortly after 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

Officers found a man on the sidewalk with what appeared to be multiple gunshot wounds to the abdomen. An officer tried to revive him until paramedics arrived, and more officers were sent as a large crowd began to gather.

Police and the Allegheny County medical examiner's office said 25-year-old Dahrique Smith of West Mifflin was pronounced dead shortly after 1 a.m. at UPMC Mercy.

The shooting comes just a few weeks after a video of a violent arrest nearby surfaced, and several months after an altercation between a Steelers assistant coach and a city officer.

Reese said he believes these are all isolated incidents, and that East Carson Street is not a violent place.

Some locals disagree.

Rowdy Buck, a popular bar on Pittsburgh's East Carson Street, was closed Monday afternoon after a shooting left a West Mifflin man dead shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, May 21, 2017.
Credit Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Kaylnn Lantzy, 23, of the North Side, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette following Sunday's shooting that she's apprehensive to visit the neighborhood alone

“I never thought something like this would happen,” Lantzy said. “That could have been me. A bullet don’t got its name on it.”

Pittsburgh Police spokeswoman Sonya Toler told the newspaper that crime on the South Side has gone down in recent years

Reese said that perception matters. 

“If you don’t think it’s ... you’re not going to go there,” he said.

Businesses try to monitor the neighborhood, mandate dress codes and insist on appropriate conduct, Reese said, but those policies can be hard to enforce.

He wants to highlight positive, daytime activities on East Carson, citing an upcoming Open Streets event and sidewalk revitalization projects. Hopefully the good outweighs the bad, Reese said.

Investigators said they are determined that the shooting occurred inside the bar. The violent crime unit is investigating.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.