The East Peoria sports bar that became the site of a double murder has opened its doors for the first time since the tragedy.
The Fifth Quarter Sports Bar and Pizzeria has been closed since Saturday night, when Jason Moore walked in and shot his ex-wife, Lori Moore, and her boyfriend, Lance Griffel. Both of the victims died at the hospital shortly after the shooting. Moore himself was fatally shot by an off-duty FBI agent.
Fifth Quarter was buzzing with activity Wednesday morning as employees got the business ready to reopen. With the smell of cleaning products hanging in the air, the sound of TVs blaring, and the sight of staff wrapping up their morning prep work, it was hard to imagine the chaos that had filled the bar just four nights prior.
Co-owner Ray Koeppel was relieved to see his business opening back up so soon after the tragedy.
"It's not an event that's ever going to be forgotten, but we thought it was best for the community to get everyone back in their regular routines," said co-owner Ray Koeppel. "As a business owner, the first thing you're worried about is all your employees and the people. It's unbelievable. It makes your heart sink. But, then, you're worried about the impact, what's this going to do to your business?"
Koeppel seemed confident that the bar will be able to shake the stigma of being the place where such an horrific event occurred. Words of encouragement and support have poured in from the community through Facebook, the web, and phone calls, he said.
He agreed that it may be difficult for employees to go back to work, especially for those who were just a few feet away from Moore when he opened fire.
"We had a meeting with them, talked to them, asked if everybody was ready to come back to work. You know, is everybody ready to deal with this, in this building?" he said.
Koeppel said he's offering all of the support he can for workers struggling with the situation, including providing grief counselors to employees who want them.
He said there is a silver lining to the dark cloud that is the weekend's tragedy: nobody else was hurt. Koeppel stood where Moore opened fire Saturday night and pointed to the building's northwest wall several feet away, where the bullets ultimately wound up.
"There were at least 50 to 70 people between the victims and those two bullet holes," he said. "I mean, that's incredible."
He said this isolated incident doesn't mean the bar is any less safe, stressing that the location of the tragedy was not the cause of it. Before last Saturday, the cops had only been called to Fifth Quarter twice in the two years it's been open. With all that in mind, Koeppel said he's not planning on adding extra security.
"We're not going to do anything different. You can't. I think if we were to bring in more security or do things different, that might set off an alarm. We just want people to feel normal," he said.