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Parents seek help in son’s cold case

Photo courtesy of Ohio Attorney General The parents of James E. Dotson Jr. are searching for answers in their son’s 2016 shooting death outside a Warren Township bar. The case is now on the Ohio Attorney General’s website that features unsolved homicides.

WARREN TOWNSHIP — Parents of a man shot to death outside a Warren Township bar in 2016 are still seeking information that would lead to solving the crime.

Charles and Margaret Poole of Akron are fighting to see justice in the April 2016 shooting death of James E. Dotson Jr., 33, of Perkinswood Boulevard SW in Warren. It occurred in the parking lot of the J&L Lounge, 1957 Highland Ave. SW.

“I’ve traveled to the health department to try to get a death certificate, and I am waiting to hear from the police sergeant who is handling the case. I just don’t know what to do next,” Charles Poole said. On the final day of 2020, Poole traveled to Trumbull County in an effort to get a copy, but found the office closed.

The Pooles are questioning why it has taken so long for police to arrest someone in the shooting of their son when the bar was filled with people.

The unsolved case has made the Ohio Attorney General’s website that features unsolved homicides in Ohio. According to Charles Poole, his son’s case was added to this list Dec. 29, and his case is numbered 3214. He said any resident who knows information about his son’s death can anonymously submit a tip through this website at www.ohioa ttorneygeneral.gov

The late Warren Township police Chief Don Bishop boarded up the bar in early 2019. Bishop retired as chief later in 2019 and died Feb. 26, 2020, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Since Bishop’s death, Poole said he has talked to one Warren Township police officer about his son’s case.

That officer, Sgt. Daniel Peterson, said people out there “know exactly what happened, but they are not talking.”

“The biggest problem you got, is that nobody is willing to be a witness,” Peterson said, noting there are some follow-ups pending on lab work with the evidence. “If people don’t come forward, then you are stuck with the physical evidence. There’s no real magic wand in these things. We would like to get this solved for the family’s sake.”

Peterson said he welcomes anyone with information about the slaying to come forward.

A check with the Ohio Department of Liquor Control’s website shows that the liquor license for the establishment is inactive with the Hatcher Richardson Partnership, which owns the liquor license for the bar, failing to renew the license as of Nov. 20, 2019. The website said no appeal on the state’s action to deactivate the license was taken.

Hatcher Richardson Partnership’s liquor permit was first issued in 2004. Franklin Hatcher and Lamar Richardson are the two individuals who own and operate the organization. One of the partners has since died.

The liquor permit allowed for on-premise sales / consumption of beer, wine, mixed drinks and spirituous liquor until 2:30 a.m.

Evidence in the report of liquor violations included three shootings that occurred outside of the bar — one each in 2013, 2016 and 2018. It was the 2016 shooting that resulted in Dotson’s death.

In that April 4 incident, Dotson was reported to have been shot and attempted to get inside, but was not allowed to come in. There also was a 2009 incident between an employee and patron that ended with shots being fired.

There were assaults in January and August 2018 and an overdose in February 2018.

Charles Poole said he is glad the bar is closed because of the level of violence that has happened inside and outside its doors.

But he still wants some answers about his son’s death.

At the time, Bishop had speculated that Dotson’s shooting may have been retaliation for a shooting about two years prior. Bishop had told the media he was trying to piece “together the information, but a lot of it was conflicting.”

How to help

The April 2016 shooting death of James E. Dotson Jr., 33, has been added to the unsolved homicide cases of the Ohio Attorney General’s office. Tips to the unsolved homicide section of the Ohio Attorney General website can be accessed by https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Law-En forcement/Local-Law-En forcement/Cold-Case/All-Cold- Cases

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