Johnny's Beach Club Hours Clipped in Wake of Shooting
Lt. Michael Grady provided the board with a police report on the incident in question.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Licensing Board is forcing Johnny's Beach Club to close at midnight after a 20-year-old man was shot on Sept. 25.
Police Lt. Michael Grady said police responded to Berkshire Medical Center at 1:55 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 25, for a man who had been shot in the foot.
Grady said the victim told police he was drinking at the Wahconah Street establishment and when he was leaving out of the back door, an unknown assailant shot him.
Police found a .45 caliber shell casing by the rear door of the property and, that following Monday, reviewed surveillance provided by bar owner John Giardina.
In the video, David Moody, 24, was seen putting a handgun into his pants. The victim, described as a "non-active" member of the Crips gang, then limped out of the bar and went to the hospital.
"We watched our victim limp out and there was a photo of the defendant standing in front of the camera stuffing a gun into his pants," Grady told the Licensing Board on Monday.
Earlier this month, Moody was arrested and Judge Thomas Estes ordered him to be held without bail on a charge of unlicensed possession of a firearm. However, Moody's attorney says his client didn't shoot the victim and, on Monday, Giardina and attorney Mark Brennan said they believe the victim actually shot himself.
"It was a concealed weapon that may or may not have gone off in someone's pants," Brennan said, adding that it appears in the video that the victim handed the alleged assailant something, possibly a gun.
Brennan argued against sanctions against the bar saying the staff member did everything they could to prevent the accident. The incident took place at 1:44, he said, and staff were cleaning up as they prepared to close. The bartender heard a noise but when he looked there was no commotion or much of a reaction from patrons. Giardina says in the video many of the patrons didn't flinch at the time of the incident.
"There was no indication except for the noise," Giardina said. "We obviously didn't know."
The employees finished up closing and then were told there may have been a gun inside the bar. That's when staff notified Giardina and the police. They said they didn't notice anything particular about the man who was shot as he left — no blood or screams of pain — but said the video shows the man walking with a limp out of the front door (not the back).
Grady said while some of the patrons didn't flinch at the sound, others did. There were about 15 people in the bar at the time. He emphasized that the matter is still under investigation but said he is "confident" that a weapon was discharged inside the bar. He added that the victim is not cooperating with the police.
Adding to the question of what actually happened is the bullet casing found outside. The board members felt the man who was shot couldn't have been shot by a .45 caliber gun.
"With a .45, he must have been quite a guy to walk out of the bar," said Chairman Carmen C. Massimiano Jr.
Member Richard Stockwell added, "I think if a .45 went off in your bar, everybody would know that a .45 went off in your bar."
Grady said the bullet was removed and sent for testing but the results of which type of gun it came from won't be available for some time. No weapon was recovered during the investigation.
And then there is a question of the victim's age. The man who was shot told police he was at Johnny's Beach Club but none of the five cameras caught the man with a drink in his hand. Giardina said he may have used a fake identification card to get in but the bartender would have carded him again because of his appearance. And the bartender said he never even approached the bar for a drink, he just hung around the pool tables with others, including Moody.
Giardina says the only thing he could have done differently to prevent the accident would be to use metal detectors, which he says he is now doing. He said he doesn't have access to information to know if a person has a violent history or are associated with gang members to keep those patrons out.
Giardina doesn't have the best history with the Licensing Board, though. Last April, the board suspended his license for seven day
s following a large fight that left multiple officers injured in making seven arrests. The board then imposed the seven-day suspension and required the bar to close at midnight for at least two months. That was on top of three suspensions since 2005 the bar had when it operated as Pepe's.
"This is an ongoing struggle at this particular licenseholder's establishment," Massimiano said.
Member Dana Doyle called for swift action to send a message to the community and for a matter of fairness. She said when there was a shooting at the former Chameleons on East Street the board quickly implemented a 21-day suspension.
That suspension ultimately led to the owner closing up shop for financial reasons.
Board member Dana Doyle called for swift action against the bar to send a message to other licenseholders.
"It sends a bad message to do nothing," Doyle said. "I would be very discouraged if we didn't take any action."
She went on to add that after the fight, Giardina promised to heighten security by creating a membership program which would restrict after midnight access to anybody he didn't personally know and trust. Giardina said he didn't know the two men involved in this incident and that they must have entered before midnight.
Other members, however, said they had too many questions about the incident to come to a determination of fault on the owner.
Grady said he'd speak with the district attorney's office to find out if there are any more details he could release to the board.
The matter will come back before the board on Nov. 30. But until then, the board voted 4-1, with Stockwell voting against, to require the bar to close at midnight and asked Giardina to improve security.
Giardina opposed the restriction, saying such penalties cause an undue hardship for tavern owners, especially when they cooperate with the investigation and staff act appropriately.
"Our job is not to do what you think is fair. It's to do what is right for the citizens of Pittsfield," Doyle responded
Tags: bars, taverns, license board, liquor license, shooting,