The shooting death Monday of a well-regarded restaurant owner in Cleveland Heights remains under investigation, with no arrests made. ideastream's Bill Rice reports the incident has stunned the community and raised questions about safety.
According to Cleveland Heights police, Jim Brennan, owner of Brennan's Colony Restaurant and bar on Lee Road, was shot inside the eatery during an attempted robbery and died at Metrohealth Hospital. Two unidentified suspects were seen fleeing the rear of the building and are still at large. Police say there may have been a struggle between Brennan and the perpetrators.
Community members say they're shocked at Brennan's death, and shocked that it happened in the early afternoon. And some are speaking up quickly to reassure residents and visitors that the city is safe. John Forman, who owns the nearby Cedar Lee Theater, rejects the idea that Cleveland Heights is becoming more dangerous, as many commenters on news sites have suggested.
"I think this is the whole issue of reality vs. perception," said Forman. "Have there been other incidents in Cleveland Heights? Absolutely. Have there been incidents in Beachwood and the Beachwood Mall, Rocky River and Crocker park? Absolutely. Downtown Cleveland? Yes. So to single out one community because of a terrible, terrible, horrific crime and say 'Oh, things are terrible in Cleveland Heights' is really unfair."
But violent crime has been on the rise in Cleveland Heights. FBI statistics show a steady rise in reported incidents -- from just 28 in 2007, to 168 in 2012, the last year of reported data.
A vigil in Cleveland Heights to honor Brennan is scheduled for 7:00 this evening.