Investigators teamed up with the manager of Star Bar to find and arrest a suspect in the alleged rape that took place at the bar on March 26.
Thanks to the prompt response from authorities and Star Bar manager cooperation, an arrest has been made. Ben Heindl, 31, has been charged with second-degree rape.
According to a news story from KXLY, the incident took place late at night at Star Bar located on North Hamilton Street near Gonzaga’s campus. The investigation began on March 28 when the victim, a young female, came to the Spokane Public Safety building stating that she had been raped two days earlier at Star Bar.
According to court documents, the woman and her boyfriend had gone to the bar on the evening of March 26. There, they met and played pool with two men. Later in the night, the woman left the bar with the two men to drink some beers she had brought with her.
According to KXLY, this is when the woman said she was attacked. She told officers that Heindl, one of the men she had been playing pool with, pushed her to go behind the fence line and sexually assaulted her. The attacker allegedly yanked down her pants and dragged the woman by her ankles to the ivy.
According to Officer Teresa Fuller, there were several pieces of evidence that lined up with what the victim reported.
The officers took pictures to document the victim’s injuries and took her report before she left the station that day.
They went to the scene soon after and found several pieces of evidence that directly correlated with the victim’s report as well as her documented injuries. Detectives found a piece of wood and pointed tacks that matched the scrapes on her body.
“There were marks on her body consistent with the tack strips he found in that area her body had been dragged across,” Fuller told KXLY. “He also found her driver's license.”
According to KXLY, police used surveillance and Facebook to track the suspect down. The suspect was released from jail on methamphetamine and car theft charges prior to the incident. He is now being held on a $75,000 bond.
David Chen, manager of Star Bar, said he was unaware of the situation until days later when a detective with the Spokane Police Department came to ask him for surveillance footage.
Chen, who was working behind the bar on the night of the attack, said he was surprised when the detectives came.
“I had no idea anything had happened until the detectives showed up to question all of us,” Chen said. “I gave them a USB drive with the surveillance footage that I had from that night and that was it. I didn’t know what the result was until I saw the news.”
According to KXLY reporter Jeff Humphreys, the surveillance that Chen provided to authorities turned out to be the first step in identifying the suspect.
Chen said that as bar manager, safety is always a concern of his. He also noted that drinking anywhere outside of the bar is against the law.
“Normally my door guys walk around to make sure nobody is drinking in the parking lot, that’s illegal, and we could be responsible for that.”
“The woman should not have been drinking in our lot, or in her car,” Chen said.
Chen also noted the rape did not take place on Star Bar’s property, but on the other side of the fence in a house yard. “Star Bar has really nothing to do with the actual assault because she left the premises.”
Star Bar is a popular bar among many students. Located two blocks from campus, it is a student favorite, especially on Thursday nights. The bar boasts cheap drinks for students and a stage for karaoke and dancing.
“We have a lot of Gonzaga students who come here, and we want them to feel safe.” Chen said.