Packy Connors gets its license back
But the Boston Licensing Board voted to roll the Blue Hill Avenue bar's closing time back to midnight - and could still revoke its license permanently if police prove the alleged underage shooter in a violent incident outside the bar early Friday was inside the bar moments earlier.
Packy Connors' supporters showing the licensing board they want the bar to stay open.
Boston Police officials told the licensing board this morning they have at least one witness who would place Charkeem Hyatt, 19, of Dorchester, inside the bar before it closed. They say he had words with somebody there and that he allegedly gunned down a man with whom he had a beef and three women who simply got in his way. They added that one of the women remains close to death - and that officers on the scene and at least one witness could not be present because they were due to testify before a grand jury that will start looking into the incident this morning.
The board suspended the bar's liquor license in an emergency hearing Friday. Today, board members Daniel Pokaski and Michael Connolly voted to give the bar its license back but with reduced hours, saying the bar seems to become a violence magnet after midnight and because Boston Police now refuse to send detail officers there. Board member Suzanne Ianella voted to give the license back with the old 2 a.m. closing time because the shooting did not occur inside the bar.
The board has held a number of hearings on the bar over the past couple of years, most recently, two weeks ago, over a melee at closing time, but has always let the bar open.
Police Deputy Superintendent Robert Merner said police are called repeatedly to the bar and that it is becoming a drain not just on the local station house but the entire city. He said 111 police officers from every district in the city were called into the investigation, which shut Blue Hill Avenue until after 4 p.m. on Friday and that the city has so far tallied up $17,000 in overtime costs. That doesn't include the inconvenience and cost to neighbors, some of whom found themselves blocked in by the investigation or had trouble getting to work because the avenue was shut.
Police Superintendent David Linskey said he ordered an end to detail assignments at the bar because, "much to my chagrin," he cannot guarantee the safety of his own officers, let alone nearby residents.
"Incident after incident has me concerned about the safety of my officers and the safety of the community," he said.
John Russell, lawyer for the bar, said it's unfair to blame the bar for its location in what he called a violent area rife with drug dealing, prostitution and shootings, and that most of the incidents occurred outside the bar. Close Packy Connor's, he said, and the troublemakers would only start showing up at the nearby Breezeway and then, after that was shut, would find some other location to raise hell at. He said Packy Connor's has been in the same location for 70 years and that, unlike other white-owned businesses, did not flee Roxbury in the 1960s or 1970s and that it is a part of many people's lives.
"It's not the establishment that's the problem here, it's the individuals," he said. Linskey, however, disagreed, giving the board a copy of a Harvard study he said showed that bar owners can have a dramatic effect on crime problems near their establishments.
A number of bar patrons attended the meeting to support owner James Cairns and his son Packy, who runs the bar. Several said they were in the bar Friday morning testified they neither heard nor saw anything untoward inside the bar.
Packy Cairns said he personally checked every single person who came in after midnight and that he does not recall seeing Hyatt. He acknowledged Hyatt could have entered the bar before then, but said the bar's nine bouncers are vigilant about checking for ID.
Two nearby residents testified they are tired of the constant crime and related problems they say is associated with the bar.