MADISON (WKOW) -- Two homicides at bar close in recent months have bar patrons in downtown Madison a little on edge.
Justin Kaatz's friend Juan Bernal was killed outside the Plaza in September, and another friend, Roynell Fuller, is accused of murdering a man outside the Crave earlier this month.
"I think it's unnecessary. Juan Burnell, for instance, lost his life over a fight over a jukebox. That's ridiculous," said Kaatz at State Street Brats on Friday.
The City of Madison has launched safety initiatives over the years to curb bar violence. Joel Plant, assistant to the mayor, says the focus needs to be on prevention rather than just police response.
"They have to be responsive. That's why they have fast cars and lights and sirens, but if we wait until the police are called to address a problem, the problem has occured. What we're wanting to do is preventing those problems from occuring," explained Plant.
Plant says everyone needs to be involved to stop these crimes including police, the bars and the patrons, themselves. Kaatz says he agrees with that.
"I'm not going to lie. I used to be kind of into the violence when I was younger and in the bar scene, and now it's just, I avoid it. It's just gotten out of hand. People are carrying weapons. It's stupid," admitted Kaatz.
Police have responded to State Street Brats over a hundred times this year for everything from bar checks to battery. Tyler Kneubuehl, a manager, says because violence can begin in bars, it's important for bouncers to keep situations from escalating.
"It's kind of like Patrick Swayze in Road House - be nice. So I mean we try to instill that in our bouncers and it works out for the most part. It's kind of hard to be aggressive or mean to someone when they're being really nice to you," said Kneubuehl.
Being nice is all Kaatz looks for when he goes out these days.
"I just stick with a close group of friends. People are still out there looking for a fight, but I just stay away from it, walk away," stated Kaatz.