By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published May 16, 2010 at 3:03 PM
While detectives continued their investigation of an early-morning shooting that left one person dead and two injured outside a Downtown nightclub, the Milwaukee Police Department stepped up its Downtown presence Saturday night, in an effort to reassure the public that Downtown was safe.

According to police, an altercation broke out inside of Martini Mike's, 730 N. Old World 3rd St., and when the persons involved were ejected from the club, the fight moved outside where a suspect opened fire on a vehicle.

The suspect is not yet in custody. Police officials said investigators are following leads and have recovered a weapon from the victim.

Capt. Stephen Basting called the shooting an "isolated incident."

"People see this on TV and think ‘Oh my God, it's not safe to go Downtown,'" Basting said. "That couldn't be further from the truth. Downtown is very, very safe."

Ald. Bob Bauman, whose district includes much of Downtown, agreed. It was the first fatal shooting Downtown since two men were shot and killed outside of what was Vision's Sports Bar, 1013 N. Old World 3rd St., in July 2006.

Two years ago, gunshots broke out during a fight after RiverSplash!, leaving one man with a minor injury.

"Incidents such as this tarnish that fact and serve to perpetuate the perception that downtown is dangerous," Bauman said. "A vibrant downtown is key to the economic vitality of the city and region. Incidents such as this have broad impact.

Police had an expanded presence Downtown Saturday night. The department already uses officers on foot, in vehicles, on bikes and even horses to patrol popular Downtown entertainment districts like Water St. and Old World 3rd St.

Regular deployments were in place Saturday morning at the time of the incident. Basting said that officers had passed through the area just prior to the incident and responded within two minutes of getting the call.

"We're going to build around what's already in place," Basting said of Downtown patrol efforts.

He, along with other members of the department have had many meetings with Downtown businesses owners and he plans to meet with nearby residents, as well.

"Those are the stakeholders," he said. "We want people to know that we're going to be here next week, the week after that ... we're going to be visible."

Bauman points out that a large majority of Downtown bar owners do a good job of maintaining a safe entertainment venue and urges those businesses to place higher scrutiny on their counterparts that lag in that regard.

"All recent incidents involving serious violence and deaths seem to involve a handful of clubs in one way or another," Bauman said. "Ninety-eight percent of downtown clubs are well managed and safe venues for entertainment and socializing which is an asset for the city."

Licensees are offered many protections, Bauman says, making it important for residents to voice their concerns. Property holders, especially, can play a key role in a problematic bar because its often easier to terminate a lease than it is a liquor license.

"The property owners of the buildings where these clubs are located should bear a lot more responsibility than they do presently," Bauman said.

Earlier this month, the common council -- as a result of complaints from neighbors -- suspended Martini Mike's license for 90 days. That suspension was to go in effect on May 27.  

Martini Mike's was closed Saturday night for a private party. A call seeking comment from owner Mike Kozak was not returned.