LIMA — Three men were shot and killed early Tuesday as part of a triple homicide that occurred at a downtown Lima bar.
City officials immediately vowed to close the bar forever.
The shooting deaths were the second, third and fourth of the new year in Lima. They marked the first case in Lima involving multiple homicides since 2002, when Jeronique Cunningham and Cleveland Jackson shot 3-year-old Jala Grant and 17-year-old Leneshia Williams at a Eureka Street residence.
Officers responded at 2:04 a.m. Tuesday to Levels Lounge, 122 E. North St., in reference to a shooting. They found two victims inside the establishment. Those two people were identified as Terell McGraw, 28, of Lima, and Devontae Upshaw, 24, of Lima. A third victim, Timothy White, 25, of Lima, was found on the sidewalk between two businesses. All three were deceased.
Tuesday evening, Lima Police stated they have a warrant for the arrest of Deontray Forrest, 24, of Lima, for suspicion of murder.
City Law Director Tony Geiger on Tuesday called the shootings “unacceptable” and said legal steps would be taken immediately to shut down the bar.
“We will be filing paperwork in court, probably tomorrow (Wednesday) to immediately close the place down through a temporary restraining order,” he said.
Geiger said the court filing will also ask the court to schedule a date to hear the city’s arguments in favor of an injunction that would close the establishment permanently.
Identities of the victims in Tuesday’s shooting weren’t released until 2 p.m., pending proper notification to their families. It was initially believed that two of the men were related, “but that has not yet been confirmed,” Lima Police Department Sgt. Jason Garlock said.
One of the three men killed in Tuesday morning’s shooting was convicted as a juvenile in the shooting death of a Lima teenager more than eight years earlier. Garlock confirmed that Upshaw was one of several teenagers charged in the shooting death of 16-year-old Eric “Porky” Armstead on Aug. 30, 2011, as Armstead was seated on a porch at 620 Madison Ave. in Lima.
The 2011 shooting reportedly grew out of an ongoing feud that began a few days earlier when the teens were in two different groups that were hurling verbal insults back and forth at the Allen County Fair and later led to a fight at Walmart on Harding Highway. Upshaw ultimately pleaded guilty to murder under a blended sentencing deal and was sentenced to a prison for children until his 21st birthday.
Police have not released a motive or identified any suspects in Tuesday morning’s shooting. Garlock said two different types of shell casings were found at the crime scene.
“We believe there were at least two firearms involved. There is also a bunch of other evidence that’s been recovered,” the police department spokesman said. “The investigation is ongoing.”
“This is just another senseless and tragic waste of human life, and the Lima Police Department will do everything it can within the law to bring those involved to justice,” Lima Police Department Chief Kevin Martin said. “It’s just a very tragic event.”
Just over a month into the new year, Tuesday morning’s shooting brought to four the number of homicides of 2020 in Lima. The first came on Jan. 20 when Danielle Jackson, a 44-year-old male, was found dead in the rear parking lot of Pappy’s Lounge, 1000 W. North St., Lima.
There were seven homicides in the city during 2019.
Anyone with information about the latest crime is asked to call the Lima Police Department at 419-227-4444, Detective Jason Garlock at 419-221-5291, Detective Sean Neidemire at 419-221-5295 or Crime Stoppers at 419-229-7867.