Commission curtails bar entertainment

WESTFIELD – The License Commission voted to roll back the hours of entertainment at an Elm Street bar following a hearing last night related to a parking lot melee which occurred in August, as the club was closing for the night.
The board voted to curtail Tommy D’s entertainment license by one hour on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights for 60 days, but will enforce the penalty for only 30 days, with the remaining time held in abstinence.
The incident, reported by the Police Department, began when a female on the dance floor fell and struck her head, requiring a Fire Department response.
Initially Tommy D’s staff thought a male had knocked the female to the ground and escorted that subject out the back door into the rear parking area. That subject was then confronted by another male, who was not a patron, and who was waiting to pick up a staff member at the end of her shift.
Police officers, stationed at the front exit of Tommy D’s, became involved when several highly alarmed people reported that a man with a knife was threatening another man and rushed to the rear parking lot.
The officers, speaking before the commission last night, reported hearing a male, later identified as the subject, waiting for the bar employee, threatening to assault the subject who had been escorted from the bar. The threatening subject attempted to flee when he saw the officers approaching, but was apprehended and charged with disorderly conduct.
Officers reported finding an empty knife sheath hanging from the male’s neck. A search for the missing weapon was unsuccessful and the alleged victim refused to give the investigating officers a statement.
As the male was taken into custody, the female employee came out of the building and began to verbally attack the arresting officers, further inciting the crowd. The officers warned the bar owner to take the female from the scene, or she too would be arrested on a disorderly conduct charge. The bar owner complied with the officers’ request.
The officers said there was a large crowd of at least 25 people gathered in the area of the disturbance. Several of those people confirmed that a knife was shown during the confrontation between the two males.
The club owner, Tom Denardo, said he had closed the bar early and was dealing with the injured female when the incident behind the bar occurred, but that the staff acted properly in escorting the male subject, described as combative, outside.
“We were protecting our patrons and staff,” Denardo said. “We did everything we were supposed to do to take care of public safety.”
License Commission Charmian John Gaudrault and Commissioner Christopher Mowatt agreed that “something happened” in the rear parking lot.
“I believe that there was an assault and I do believe there was a public safety issue,” Gaudrault said.
“Something happened that should not have occurred,” Mowatt said. “Tommy acted with the best intentions based on the information he had, but was it enough, we don’t know.”
Mowatt asked if Denardo would increase his staff and station a security staff member at the rear door to patrol the rear parking area between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.
“You do a lot of things right, but more can be done,” Mowatt said to Denardo
Mowatt suggested a roll back in the entertainment license to give Denardo time to hire additional staff and to put a rear parking lot security plan into action. That motion was approved by a vote of 2-0.

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