Nightlife resumes in Benson as police hunt for a killer

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- A day after deadly gunfire rocked the Benson neighborhood an uneasy peace returned to the streets there as police hunted for a killer.

Shortly before midnight Thursday night emergency crews responded to 62nd and Maple to investigate a report of shots fired. They found the victim down in a grassy area outside the Waiting Room Lounge. He was dead at the scene.

On Friday night, Zane Sutton was among those who had returned to Benson’s vibrant nightlife. “It’s a shock,” he said of the shooting. “You can't believe something like that would happen here."

Keith Jackson echoed Sutton’s surprise. “Never even seen a fight,” he said. “I've never even seen an argument down here."

Omaha City Councilman Pete Festersen said there were, “a lot of heavy hearts around here today," but he said the incident broke with Benson’s nature. “It was an isolated incident and uncharacteristic of the future of this neighborhood."

But the gunfire resonated a day later. Jackson said, “It just comes as a real shock to know that someone was murdered right there."

The Waiting Room was back open for business Friday featuring another concert and while Sutton was among those expressing surprise at what had happened the night before, he was also among those confident in the neighborhood. “I still feel safe and will continue to come down here even though something really tragic happened," he said.

Festersen added, “I encourage folks to keep coming to Benson. It's a great place to be."

It might take time for others to regain their confidence. Jackson worries about his children. “My daughters go to 1912 and whatnot. It's an eye-opener, for sure," he said. “I think I'll be locking my doors a lot more and paying a lot closer attention."

Even the optimistic say the shooting won't pass without notice.

Zane Sutton said, “It does make you think about just being safe when you're down here."

While some were weighing their response to the gunfire, others were finding it to be a new arrival on the scale. We spoke with some in line at the Waiting Room Friday night who were unaware of what had happened the night before.