Argument in parking lot of Niles bar leads to shooting death

By Ed Runyan


The Niles Police Department has taken Robin L. Caviness Jr., 39, of Howland into custody and charged him with Monday morning’s fatal shooting of Clayton Bender in the parking lot of the Madden’s Bar and Grill, 5616 Youngstown Road.

Capt. John Marshall of the Niles Police Department said late Monday additional charges will follow. Caviness will be arraigned on the murder charge and gun specification this morning in Niles Municipal Court.

Bender, 23, of Kenilworth Avenue, Warren, was shot to death early Monday.

Niles police, who were aided by forensics investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said the 2 a.m. shooting occurred during a fight after a private party let out at the bar.

“One group of people that were leaving the party got into an argument in the parking lot that escalated into a physical fight and then ultimately into gunfire,” Marshall told 21 WFMJ-TV, The Vindicator’s broadcast partner.

Detectives later learned Bender attended the party, which was held for a recent Warren murder victim.

Officials said investigators have reviewed video from the bar and an ice cream store next door.

Bender’s body was sent to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy and a ruling on the cause of death. The Trumbull County Coroner’s office hopes to have the results this week.

Police were called to the bar at 1:56 a.m. by someone who heard six gunshots coming from behind the business.

The county 911 center received information a black pickup truck containing several males and a female was involved in the shooting.

Bender, who was still breathing shortly after the shooting, was with two other males. He was taken by ambulance to Trumbull Regional Medical Center.

A 1994 Cadillac with a broken rear window was left behind at the scene. It was apparently the vehicle in which Bender was a passenger when he was shot.

If Bender’s death is ruled a homicide, it will be the city’s first this year. Niles has had one homicide each year since 2015, police said.

According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, Bender completed a two-year prison sentence in May after being convicted of burglary in September 2016 in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

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