A shooting over the weekend at a popular Harlow Street night spot marked the latest violent episode at a property where a shooting also took place last August, a man was killed in 2020 and police have been called repeatedly over the years to respond to assaults and noise complaints.
But city officials on Monday appeared unlikely to take immediate action to address violence at 190 Harlow St., which houses Half Acre Nightclub and Diamonds Gentleman’s Club.
City Council Chair Rick Fournier said Monday morning that the council would likely discuss the matter during a council workshop meeting Monday evening, but the topic didn’t come up.
Police Chief Mark Hathaway told councilors at their full meeting later Monday that police have received multiple tips and that the case is still under investigation. Councilors didn’t discuss the matter further.
Bangor police responded to reports of shots fired at the property shortly after 1 a.m. on Sunday, according to Det. Lt. Brent Beaulieu. An altercation among nightclub patrons escalated to a shooting that left one person injured, police said.
Bangor police hadn’t made any arrests as of Monday afternoon, but they renewed their call for anyone who witnessed the altercation or has video to contact police.
While councilors didn’t discuss the topic on Monday, state Sen. Joe Baldacci, D-Bangor, said city officials need to consider not renewing the businesses’ liquor licenses if they cannot gain control of the violence and provide a safe environment for patrons both inside and outside.
“I’ve had enough of this reckless, dangerous and violent behavior,” said Baldacci, a former city councilor. “It has no place in Bangor.”
The Bangor City Council last renewed Diamonds’ liquor license in February, and Half Acre’s will expire in November.
City Councilor Dan Tremble said he couldn’t remember anyone voicing concerns about the latest license renewal because “it’s a pretty routine thing.”
Tremble said he wants to learn more about whether both businesses are drawing the violent behavior, and what the city can do to mitigate it, before taking action against either business. However, he said something needs to be done to stop the altercations that put the public in danger.
“Obviously, any time there’s drinking late at night, there are going to be problems, but when there are shootings, that’s something we’re not going to tolerate,” he said.
Baldacci said he contacted the state liquor inspector who oversees Penobscot County and is “confident she’ll undertake an investigation” on the nightclubs.
The Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations did not return requests for comment Monday on the potential investigation.
Patrick Brann, who owns 190 Harlow St. and Half Acre Nightclub, said he’s frustrated his business is being blamed for the violence.
“We go above and beyond in terms of protecting our patrons and providing a safe place,” he said.
Brann said Half Acre has security cameras in place and patrons must walk through metal detectors and have their IDs scanned when they enter. Brann said he’s considering hiring a police officer to be present at all times due to the repeated violent events.
Brann said the patrons involved in the shooting Sunday morning were in Half Acre for 10 minutes before the nightclub closed and didn’t drink anything. He didn’t know where they were previously.
Bangor police did not return requests for comment regarding the details of Sunday’s altercation.
“I think it’s too bad that everyone’s pointing fingers at Half Acre as if we’re a menace to society because we’re not,” Brann said. “You can’t foresee if someone’s going to be stupid and punch someone in the face.”
Brann said police need to increase their presence near the nightclubs and monitor public areas as well, as most of the recent violence has happened outside or near the businesses.
Fights often happen outside because fighting indoors leads to patrons getting banned from the nightclub for 30 days, Brann said. If patrons fight a second time, they get banned indefinitely.
Calls to Diamonds Gentleman’s Club were not returned Monday.
Prior to Sunday’s shooting, a fight broke out between two customers waiting to enter one of the businesses in August 2021 and one of them began shooting, resulting in one injury. A Boston man was later arrested and charged with elevated aggravated assault.
Before that, Demetrius Snow was fatally stabbed in the parking lot of Half Acre in February 2020. Last 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.