Board sets meeting on incidents at three establishments

Board sets meeting on incidents at three establishments

PAWTUCKET – July was a new month but the same story in downtown Pawtucket and surrounding area, where police say late-night establishments were sites of several more incidents.

The Pawtucket City Council’s Board of License Commissioners has set a special meeting for this Thursday, July 29, to discuss incidents at:

• Vibe Lounge and Hookah Bar, 23 Exchange St.

• International Club and Billar, 327 Barton St.

• And Mangos, 15 Exchange St.

Council President David Moran told The Breeze he didn’t want to wait on holding a formal hearing beyond the first meeting in August, which is why he scheduled Thursday’s deliberations to potentially forward the matters for formal public hearings at that first meeting. If there’s to be disciplinary action, he said, it seems like it should be done sooner rather than later.


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At Vibe Lounge, said Moran, the owners are “totally ignoring” city mandates.

“I don’t think they’ve learned their lesson,” he said. “This has to be addressed by the board; we can’t let it go.”

Vibe Lounge was allowed to reopen by the R.I. Department of Business Regulation after the local board attempted to revoke its license in April. A second revised and partial stay approved in late June maintained the status quo pending a full hearing, requiring a two-person police detail to stay in place, but allowing the establishment to stay open until 1 a.m.

In that decision, the state said the city will have a difficult burden to show that a prior shooting outside the club was directly or indirectly linked to something that happened inside the club.

Other issues at Vibe have included numerous violations of COVID-19 protocols and staying open late.

A police memo from Capt. David Holden on the agenda for discussion Thursday states that two more incidents required police to respond to Vibe Lounge, including one on July 16 and one on July 17.

Holden, who asks the board to consider disciplinary action, recounts that on July 16, a detective on police detail at the business ordered music to be turned off as required by 12:30 a.m., but that employees refused to do so until nearly 1 a.m.

The same detective was back on assignment July 17, and, aware that city ordinance requires that all entertainment be ended by 12:30 a.m., he again advised security guards that music needed to be turned off. The security guards, one of whom was the one he spoke with the night before, walked back into the club, and the music continued to play until the same time as the night before, or 12:56 a.m. The detective said security guards advised him that music gets turned off at 12:50 a.m.

Police memos describe three incidents at the International Club.

• One incident involved a woman who said she came out of a restroom to see her father being forcibly removed. When she approached the security guard, he allegedly punched her in the face and pepper-sprayed both her and her father. The guard then left.

Club manager Joshua Gutierrez stated that private security had been hired for an 800-person event, but he said he was unable to provide the name of the company or the name of the security guard who assaulted the woman. Gutierrez said he had seen the guard being aggressive during the night. He said the guard had broken up a large altercation between many patrons. The guard left and quit after getting pepper spray in his own eyes. Police are investigating the assault, according to Holden.

• On July 17, Sgt. David Medeiros responding to a call for assistance nearby, was forced to come to a stop outside the club as a large crowd was exiting. Medeiros contacted dispatch and told them about the large crowd and his concern that someone might be struck by a driver.

Another officer responded to the club at 1:50 a.m. and found an even larger group, as well as another 100 or so people inside, many actively consuming alcohol and sitting at tables. There were about 10 security guards standing near the entrance not doing anything, according to the officer. He informed them the club should have been closed an hour earlier and instructed them to get everyone out of the bar. Manager Bryon Sicaju stated that the band started late, so they finished late.

The sergeant was back at 2:05 a.m. and found 30 people still inside, with security guards still standing around. He said Sicaju appeared to not care when he was told he needed to get everyone out. Patrol units stood by as the crowd was disbursed and establishment emptied by 2:20 a.m. A total of five Pawtucket officers and two Central Falls officers responded for the incident.

• On July 18, at around 1:07 a.m., Medeiros and other officers responded for a report of a stabbing at the International Club. They found a large crowd in the street, with several men screaming at each other. Officers were also informed that a man had been assaulted nearby.

Medeiros then requested all available units to help with crowd control and finding any possible stabbing victim. They cleared the crowd and checked for victims, but later determined that there hadn’t been a stabbing, according to Holden’s report.

Medeiros said he didn’t see any staff or security from the International Club helping patrons across the street or attempting to control the crowd or break up fights. An officer said he saw about 50 people acting in a disorderly way and said one man had said he was jumped. The officer observed some minor swelling to the man’s face, but the man didn’t want to file a formal complaint. A second man said he had been in a fight and had a minor laceration to his hand, but he also didn’t want to file a complaint.

Another officer said one of the men who was assaulted had stated that it happened as he was exiting the establishment and three individuals attacked him. He said he didn’t want to pursue charges due to not knowing who the assailants were.

Holden noted that this was the third incident at International Club in two weekends, and asked the board to review them and determine disciplinary action.

• On July 10, at around 1 a.m., an officer on detail duty at Mangos reported being unable to break up a group of people involved in an altercation, and that groups refused to follow his orders to leave the area. A small number of people exiting Vibe Lounge also joined the confrontation. The officer requested additional police help, and eight officers responded. Officers reported about 100 people gathered in the roadway and “people fighting in all directions, yelling at each other,” and several drivers screeching their tires. One man, Ricardo Santos Tavares, began yelling loudly and throwing punches at people, striking an officer when his fist came back. Santos Tavares was placed under arrest after a brief struggle.

According to Holden, Mangos owner Alex Quiroz, who was previously before the board due to violations of closing times, was on scene and aware of the incident.

Comments

It seems to me, with all the incidents at these clubs, the owner’s intransigence, and the lack of co-operation, maybe the clubs should be declared a public nuisance, and business and liquor license taken away. Let them fight to get it back, while of course, remaining closed. Valuable police resources and man hours are being lost, not only in Pawtucket, but surrounding towns responding to mutual aid request’s. Which of course, is unfair to the citizens of those towns, using their tax dollars to fight crime in another city, to their own detriment. In my opinion, the city has a compelling reason, to shut these clubs down. The owners of these clubs need to be held accountable for their actions, which endanger the community, and the surrounding communities as well. Hopefully, the Council, after all kinds of efforts to resolve this ongoing problem, to say enough is enough.