The owner of Half Acre Nightclub near downtown Bangor defended his business Monday night after nearby residents revived long-standing complaints about noise and violence from the club’s patrons following an April shooting.
Edward and Eimel Evans were arrested and charged in early May for starting a fight at the club at 190 Harlow St. that ended in a shooting in the parking lot outside. It was the latest violence to emanate from the Harlow Street night spot that houses Half Acre as well as Diamonds Gentleman’s Club.
Last August, Gaurionex Joaquin-Peguero was arrested for attempted murder and two assault charges after police said he shot at other patrons during a fight in the parking lot outside Half Acre. That followed a stabbing the year before in which Rayshaun Moore killed Demetrius Snow in February 2020.
In response to the latest shooting, residents at the nearby apartment complex Franklin Place revived long-running complaints about noisy patrons leaving the club and fears for their safety.
“We’ve been dealing with this for 15 years,” an unidentified resident told members of the Bangor City Council’s government operations committee during a Monday meeting. “The residents of Franklin Place have a right to sleep. The city needs to hold [Half Acre] accountable.”
Bangor police Chief Mark Hathaway said his officers have received 55 complaints this year about incidents at the 190 Harlow St. property. Eight were from Franklin Place residents.
Another Franklin Place resident, Patricia Tate, said she feared for her safety.
“I’m not sure if I’m going to look outside and see mass murders,” she said. “It’s very unsettling to be in an environment [where] you’re hearing gunshots and stabbings.”
Patrick Brann, who owns both Half Acre and the 190 Harlow St. building, blamed the recent shootings on a “societal issue” of people having ready access to guns and drugs.
He said the club was the only place other than the Bangor airport and Hollywood Casino that made its customers go through metal detectors. In addition, he said, his staff scan customers’ IDs and have begun closing the club at 12:45 a.m.
Diamonds Gentleman’s Club, which operates in the other half of 190 Harlow St., closes at 2 a.m.
Diamonds did not respond to a request for comment and did not send a representative to Monday’s meeting.
“How many things happen at Walmart, and no one says a word?” Brann said. “Any time something happens at Half Acre or 190 Harlow St., now everyone wants to talk about it.”
The city of Bangor owns the parking lot outside of the club, so Brann’s security guards’ authority is limited and his insurance company cannot guarantee their safety if they respond to incidents outside of the club, he told councilors Monday night.
Brann did not respond to a request for comment after Monday’s meeting.
He told the Bangor Daily News last year that his business had a “fantastic” relationship with the Bangor Police Department and worked together to mitigate past complaints.
State Sen. Joe Baldacci, D-Bangor, asked Maine’s liquor licensing division to consider revoking Half Acre’s and Diamonds’ liquor licenses. Half Acre’s is active through November, and Diamonds’ is active through next May.
Bangor city Councilor Gretchen Schaefer disagreed with that approach, pointing out that shootings occurred in churches, schools and campgrounds, and that it was unfair to blame a nightclub for gun violence.
“I do think the problems of guns and violence go beyond a single establishment. The problem here is not a nightclub. It’s systemic and goes much farther,” she said.
Committee chair Sue Hawes suggested the city could lease the parking lot to Half Acre, so that Brann’s guards could patrol it and prevent fights.
The committee will schedule another meeting to further discuss noise and violence complaints with Diamonds and Brann, Hawes said.