Security guard fired shot in air after fight broke out at Des Moines bar, police say

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Closing time in the Court Avenue Entertainment Zone ended with a gunshot early Sunday morning, but police say it did not come from any bargoers.

Des Moines Police say an armed security guard inside of The Firm, a bar inside of the Court Center, fired a warning shot into the air just before 2 a.m.

“I want to ask them, ‘Exactly why did you do this, and what did you expect to happen when you did do it?'” said Sgt. Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department.

According to police, a fight broke out in the Firm in which a person tackled an armed security guard and may have reached for that guard’s gun. That’s when a second security guard fired a warning shot in the air to stop the situation.

No one was injured in the incident.

The incident is especially upsetting to Court Avenue Association president Tom Zmolek, the driving force behind the Court Avenue Entertainment Zone.

“It was just a ridiculously stupid thing to do,” said Zmolek, who added he was inside the entertainment zone when the shot was fired. “Everybody is just at their wits’ end about the situation. There was no common sense being used in what happened last night.”

Zmolek said it’s a miracle no one was hurt, because The Firm is located directly below another bar in the Court Center complex.

“It could have been a complete disaster,” Zmolek said. “When there is a barload of patrons right above the establishment, that was pretty poor judgment.”

Guns are banned from the weekend entertainment zone, which is enforced by metal detectors at checkpoints around the area. However, security guards do have the right to bear arms inside of the district.

The armed security guards are not affiliated with the Des Moines Police Department. Parizek said officers would never fire a warning shot in the air to break up a fight.

“Anytime a bullet leaves the muzzle of a gun, there is risk involved,” Parizek said. “We know that what comes up must come down somewhere, so looking at the circumstances, we have concerns about why that was done.”

Police are still investigating and charges against the security guard remain a possibility.

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