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Living Out Loud: : Jail Bait

Dying in Jail Alley

By Lee Butler · September 5th, 2007 · Living Out Loud
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It seemed like any other early morning in Over-the-Rhine. I was headed to my office on a warm, sticky Thursday while thinking about the upcoming weekend. As I got out of my car, I was greeted by the bright lights of flashing police cars as they lit up the black sky like a strobe light.

I could tell this wasn't going to be any ordinary morning. Cincinnati's finest had Jail Alley cordoned off with yellow crime-scene tape. The whole scene looked straight out of a CSI episode. I started looking for Gil Grissom and waiting for the theme music to start.

I had assumed the worst and instinctively knew that the dirty streets of Over-the-Rhine had claimed another life.

It was like déjà vu as I had seen the exact scene unfold just a few weeks earlier when another man, named Juan Rivera, was killed outside Club Dream at 215 Jail Alley.

Both victims were in their early 20s and were killed by gunfire after leaving Club Dream. The latest victim was a fledgling young rapper named Bryan Couch aka "Baby Bryan" to his friends and "B-Chubb" to his fans.

It's unfortunate that violence would claim the lives of two young men in the prime of their lives. I won't go on a tangent and demand that the killings in Cincinnati come to an end. I'm going to assume that some local politician has already made this statement at least 44 times before Couch's demise.

According to the local news, he was the 45th homicide victim in Cincinnati so far this year.

These deaths hit close to home for me as both these men were killed near my office. I walk past Jail Alley daily, as do many of my co-workers. I think that the city should consider changing the name from Jail Alley to Tombstone Alley. When I see that tiny alley, it reminds me of the old cowboy movies in which lawless desperados shot people down like dogs and left them for the buzzards.

There aren't enough police officers or deputies in Cincinnati to keep the Grim Reaper out of Over-the-Rhine. The reaper comes to town with his blood-soaked Nikes and works the streets harder than any police officer or prostitute.

I would prefer to think of Mr. Couch as a person and not a statistic. He was a local rising star who began rapping at the age of 16. According to family members, he was working to establish himself as a serious rapper.

The former Western Hills High School graduate had plans to promote his music in Atlanta and Texas. When he wasn't busting out a rhyme, he could be found at the local church playing drums and singing.

He was scheduled to perform at Club Dream during an upcoming weekend. Unfortunately, he wouldn't survive long enough to make that performance, as he was silenced by a fatal gunshot wound. He was promoting his new CD, Piffology, which stood for "Paid in Full Force."

I did a Google search on Couch. I learned that he had many fans and admirers on various MySpace pages. After listening to some of his music, I can understand why he was considered a rising star. After the deaths of "B-Chubb" and Rivera, Club Dream's lease was terminated.

The club at 215 Jail Alley was managed by the Stough Development Group. Michael Paul, chief operating officer of the Stough Development Group, wouldn't elaborate on the terms of the lease.

"There is nothing that I did wrong," said Sirak Geberegeorgis, owner of Club Dream.

Geberegeorgis pointed out that no one actually died in the club. The deaths of Juan Rivera and Bryan Couch are still under investigation. It's not known whether the homicides were premeditated or acts of random violence. Regardless, no one deserves to be executed like a wild animal in a dark alley.

Over the past few days, life in Over-the-Rhine has resumed back to its false state of normalcy. The only memory left of the slain rapper is a makeshift memorial at Jail Alley and Sycamore Street, made of a lone balloon and some notes wilting in the sweltering heat.



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