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Neighbors concerned after another shooting outside Denver hookah lounge

Cafe Insomnia sshooting
Posted at 4:32 PM, Nov 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 09:04:25-05

DENVER — Neighbors of a Denver hookah lounge are concerned for their safety after another overnight shooting, and they want the city and police department to take action.

Darrel Bauer said he was sleeping on his couch early Saturday morning when a series of gunshots woke him up.

"It was probably 20 to 30 shots, multiple shooters," he said Sunday. "After I hung up with 911, there was another set of shootings."

Bauer's home is located near the Cafe Insomnia hookah lounge on South Broadway and E. Harvard Avenue.

Shortly after, another series of shots were fired. This time, Bauer says the shots were too close for comfort.

"I heard the bullets come through my front window, and they lodged in my living room wall," he said. "I heard glass shattering and the Venetian blinds were shattered because they're metal."

In a video shared with Denver7, you can hear the gunshots.

Bauer said the gatherings outside Cafe Insomnia have gotten worse since Habibi Hookah Cafe on South Broadway and E. Colorado Avenue permanently closed.

The lounge, which is just a mile up the street from Cafe Insomnia, was forced shut on Nov. 1 because of a shooting.

The situation has left Paul Kashmann, councilmember for Denver's District 6, just as upset as his constituents.

"Late-night disruptions next to a residential neighborhood are unacceptable in any conditions. But when it escalates to the point of gunfire, it simply has to stop," he said. "In this situation where you had such outlandish hours, it's going to be real hard to control."

According to Cafe Insomnia's listing on Google, it's open until 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday. A bill introduced by councilmember Jolon Clark would force hookah lounges across Denver to close at midnight.

"When you're open until 5 — as they say, nothing great is going to happen after midnight," Kashmann said.

The bill's first reading is happening Monday at the Denver City Council meeting. Bauer said he hopes it eventually gets the votes it needs to pass.

"I don't want to move because I love Denver, so, you know, they need to do something," Bauer said.

In the meantime, Kashmann said Denver police is aware of the problem and recently positioned HALO cameras near the lounge.

Denver7 reached out to the owner of Cafe Insomnia by phone and email but has not heard back.

A post on its Facebook page hours after the shootings says the lounge will reopen Tuesday "with a restructuring" of how it operates.

Neighbors say, and Denver police's crime map confirms, there was a shooting just down the block from the lounge on Oct. 24, which they attribute to its patrons. A neighbor says he found blood outside his home. It's unclear if anyone was injured in these recent shootings.