A pole-dancing competition between dancers from Toledo and Detroit was just kicking off at a downtown strip club early Thursday when a fight erupted inside and shots were fired outside.
Inside, where chairs and tables were thrown — a woman was hit by one — no one could hear the shots. It wasn't until Marcus Osley came stumbling into Chez Joey, and then collapsed near the door, that most even knew a shooting had occurred.
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“He stumbled in and then everyone was freaking out,” said Benjamin Blessman, a Detroit promoter who goes by “Maximus.”
Paramedics took Osley, 28, of Toledo to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 2:20 a.m., police said. Osley was shot twice; once in his torso and in an arm, said Dr. Maneesha Pandey, a Lucas County deputy coroner. Another man, Jackie Brown of Columbus, was wounded by a bullet that grazed his head. He was treated and released from the hospital, police said.
Thursday afternoon police said they had arrested Keevon Johnson, 34, of Erie, Pa., and charged him with murder in the case.
The shooting was reported at 12:55 a.m. at the club, 715 Monroe St. It was not known how many shots were fired or how many shooters were present. Some witnesses estimated about 300 people on scene Thursday morning.
“That's what makes the investigation a little more complex,” police Sgt. Joe Heffernan said. “Not only do you have to debrief and interview people who have been drinking possibly or in an agitated state, you have to sometimes wait a little bit to gather some of the evidence and interviews once everyone is in a better frame of mind.”
The size of the large crowd and shots being fired, in addition to the proximity to the Safety Building, prompted a heavy police response. One count put the total number of police vehicles at 17. Police ask that anyone with information call Crime Stoppers at 419-255-1111.
Osley's death marks the 18th homicide in Toledo this year, one fewer than during the same period in 2013.
Osley had one son, Marquez Osley, who is 5. Mac McCluster, the boy's uncle, said Osley was a good father.
“No matter what he did beyond that, he was a guy that supported his son and was a father to his son. Now my nephew does not have a father so I have to step up and the other men in my family have to step up to make sure he has a father figure,” Mr. McCluster said.
Mr. McCluster said he hopes Osley's death will be a wake up call to the community and that the deaths of young black men will stop seeming “normal.”
“It's becoming too normal to people that they're not realizing that these are people,” Mr. McCluster said as he became emotional. “I'm crying for my nephew, man. I'm crying for my nephew and everybody else. My heart hurts.”
The Toledo versus Detroit stripper dance-off happens several times a year, Mr. Blessman said. There's not really a declared “winner” but the competition brings in about 25 women from Detroit and 25 women from Toledo to dance for patrons.
“It's a show for who looks like they're making more money,” Mr. Blessman said. “It's like who is getting made rain on more. It's not a statistical science. It's who makes [it] look better and hotter.”
The event was the fourth this year and the second at Chez Joey. Now it will likely be the last.
“When you go to Toledo you think you're escaping to something a little country or low key,” Mr. Blessman said. “It's like a vacation, you know. You don't think you'd get the stuff from the big city. That's some crazy [stuff] to see this happening.”
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