WATERLOO – The private club downstairs could get loud.
But it was about what one would expect living next to a bar, according to people residing and working next to what would become the scene of one of the worst local shootings in recent memory.
“They bump music down there pretty loud, pretty late,” said Rob Thompson, who lives upstairs and to the left of 501 W. Fifth St., where eight people were shot — two fatally — in a gun battle in the early morning hours Saturday.
Thompson, who has lived there for a few years, said he had been inside the location in its prior incarnation as pipe shop but not since a motorcycle club began leasing the space for its gatherings earlier this year.
“They always invited me down there on my way up the stairs. They were being friendly,” Thompson said.
He said the club didn’t keep regular hours. It was just open when they had events, mostly on the weekends, occasionally on a weekday. Thompson, a bartender by trade, was used to the noise. Other neighbors weren’t.
Downstairs, John Parsons has run Cedar Valley Tattoo and Piercing next door in the same building for about six years. He said most of the time you wouldn’t know the club was there.
“They would just kind of come and go and whatever,” Parsons said. “I never had an issue with the noise. I heard the neighbors had an issue with the noise. They did have bigger events here a couple of times, barbecues and stuff.”
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In his apartment, Thompson was playing video games — he likes the baseball titles — when the gunfire broke out in the club.
“I just heard a bunch of popping downstairs. I threw the cats in the bathtub in case something came through the floor or whatever. I looked out front and saw people scattering in the street. The police came fast,” Thompson said.
Police continued to hold the scene for almost two days. During the investigation, residents were able to remain in their apartments but had to check in with police when they came and went.
After police released the scene Sunday night, Parsons discovered a bullet from the club had pierced the wall into his business. The projectile came through a shared wall, skimmed across the top of an extra table stored in the hallway, cutting the cushion on top.
The bullet entered a second wall and then knocked a chunk of drywall into Parsons’ piercing room on the other side.
“There are bullet holes through my (expletive deleted). I can’t have this open,” Parsons said. “This is the room I do piercing in. … If I was standing right here, I would have got (expletive deleted) shot,” Parsons said.
Police cut a square out of the wall to retrieve the bullet.