Last weekend’s shooting at a Harlow Street property that houses an adult entertainment club and nightclub marks the latest violent episode of many that the property has seen over the years.
The shooting at 190 Harlow St. on the edge of downtown Bangor followed the February 2020 stabbing death of Demetrius Snow behind the property, another stabbing in 2017, and years of complaints to police about customers loitering and making noise in the area late at night.
Bangor police said problems have been going on at the property for years, but one of the property’s owners said he’s encouraged by what he described as a “fantastic relationship” with the Bangor police and a lack of recent noise complaints. The violence and noise that do happen at the property are a result of the businesses they house being popular late-night spots that patrons visit after they’ve already been drinking, he said. At this point, the Bangor City Council doesn’t plan any action to address complaints about the property.
Early Sunday morning, Bangor police responded to a shooting at Diamonds Gentleman’s Club, the adult entertainment club that operates on the front side of 190 Harlow St.
Gaurionex Joaquin-Peguero of Boston is accused of shooting a man outside of Diamonds, and he faces charges including attempted murder and elevated aggravated assault. Joaquin-Peguero is being held on $100,000 bail. The man he’s accused of shooting was taken to a hospital emergency room with gunshot wounds and is expected to survive.
Before that, the latest high-profile violent incident to take place by the property was the February 2020 stabbing of Demetrius Snow. In May, a Penobscot County Superior Court jury found Rayshaun Moore guilty of murder.
Diamonds opened in 2012 in the spot previously occupied by Diva’s Gentleman’s Club.
The following year, at least 11 people there were arrested in different instances on various charges such as assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. Two men were arrested that April for punching a female entertainer in the face and causing her to lose a tooth, and one man was arrested that August for punching a hole in the club’s wall.
In 2017, two men were arrested on assault charges following a stabbing near Diamonds, police said at the time. Nearby residents have also complained about customers loitering and making noise after hours. After its 2012 opening, Bangor police were called to the area 50 times in a four-month span to deal with problems such as crime and noise.
Bangor police Sgt. Wade Betters said in an email that problems with 190 Harlow St. have been “going on for years.” He said that police had tried “many strategies” to address those problems.
Bangor City Council Chair Dan Tremble said the council doesn’t plan on taking any action to address 190 Harlow St., and previous noise complaints had been resolved. “I’m pretty comfortable with the police department handling it at this point,” he said.
Patrick Brann, who owns the building at 190 Harlow St. with his father and brother in addition to owning Half Acre Nightclub, which also opened in 2012, said that his business hasn’t received any complaints since before the COVID-19 pandemic. He speculated that the reason the property has seen the confrontations it has is due to its reputation as a “late night spot.”
Maine liquor laws allow licensed businesses to serve patrons until 1 a.m. Half Acre closes at 1:15 a.m., while Diamonds, an adult entertainment club, closes at 2 a.m. according to its website. Bangor’s adult entertainment policy forbids alcohol from being served at establishments that offer nude dancing, a point of contention for previous exotic dance club owners. Topless dancing is considered a form of nudity.
Business at Half Acre doesn’t normally pick up until 11 p.m., when the club starts seeing patrons who want to “polish off the night” after they’ve already been out for a few hours elsewhere in Bangor, Brann said.
“Unfortunately for [Half Acre and Diamonds], they get a lot of the overflow, which means people will already have been drinking,” he said. “Maybe they’re already mad at other people for things that have happened elsewhere, and unfortunately it escalates as the night goes on.”
Diamonds’ business agent was unable to reach the business’ owners on behalf of the Bangor Daily News, and a voicemail left at Diamonds was not returned. In June, the Maine secretary of state’s office listed the business as “not in good standing” for failing to file an annual report.
In addition to focusing on violent confrontations, city officials have also tried to ensure Diamonds isn’t violating local rules regarding nudity.
In the fall of 2019, undercover Bangor police officers visited the club and witnessed a fully naked Diamonds employee “displaying the full monty” and physical contact between dancers and patrons, which Bangor city ordinances ban. Bangor Code Enforcement Director Jeff Wallace advised Diamonds’ owners of the violation in a Feb. 7, 2020, letter, saying the city could suspend its license to operate and fine it $500 per violation.
While he’s concerned about violence at his property, Brann said Half Acre has a “fantastic relationship” with the Bangor Police Department. Half Acre hasn’t received any noise complaints in the past few years, after the club, Bangor police and the City Council worked to achieve “a happy medium,” he said.
Police have increased their presence in the area and club staff encourage patrons to move along quickly after leaving so they don’t linger in the parking lot and make noise that disturbs nearby residents, Brann said.