The Boston Licensing Board today considered incidents outside bars in Roxbury and Fort Point Channel that police said may be linked to the board's decision last year to reduce the hours at Packy Connors on Blue Hill Avenue.
Officers testifying in hearings on a bottle-smashing brawl outside the Breezeway on Blue Hill Avenue on Nov. 15 and a "Western-style shootout" in the parking lot next to the Blue Wave on Congress Street on Oct. 4 said the sort of troublemakers who used to hang out at Packy Connors when it closed at 2 a.m. simply moved to other locations with late hours after the board rolled Packy Connors' closing time back to midnight, in response to a series of violent incidents at or near that bar.
Sgt. Joseph Horton said the Breezeway has become a new gathering place for gang members from places such as Mission Hill and Orchard Park, "the ones who used to go to Packy's." A C-6 sergeant (Ed. note: I didn't get his name, sorry) told the board the area around Blue Wave started seeing an uptick in violent incidents right after Packy Connors had its hours reduced.
Breezeway owner Christ Stamatos acknowledged the Nov. 15 incident started when members of rival gangs "bumped into one another [on the dance floor] and decided they wanted to fight; they did not want to reason." He said club security quickly hustled the two outside and watched as they appeared to go in different directions. But less than two minutes later, he said, one showed up at the front door again, blood streaming from his head from where the other guy had smashed him with a bottle. Stamatos said the bottle did not come from the Breezeway because it only serves drinks in plastic cups to prevent just such incidents.
And he agreed with a recommendation by Horton to buy a metal detector - and install it by this weekend.
Board Chairman Daniel Pokaski, however, said that wasn't enough. "There has to be some system of identifying gang members and keeping them out of the place, it's as simple as that, or you're going to have a problem."
Stamatos said one of his waitresses lives on Mission Hill and has been picking out gangbangers as they attempt to enter. "We bar them," he said.
George Heos, attorney for Blue Wave said the problem is not with the club but with the owners of the adjoining parking lot, whose employees simply leave after the lot fills up for the night and who fail to supervise activities there. He said people park there to go to downtown clubs and that the owners have resisted Blue Wave's request to install security cameras.
Heos said the club is willing to meet with neighbors to discuss the issues and that its owner has done just that - just not with the residents who attended today's hearing. One of those residents, Linda Lucas, who lives a block away from the club, said residents have gotten tired of walking out on Saturday and Sunday mornings to find the neighborhood littered with syringes and used condoms - and their car mirrors and windows smashed. Big and scary bouncers in sunglasses and big limos with black glass don't make them feel more secure, she said.
The sergeant said the Oct. 4 shootout started when a man in a silver Escalade pulled up to the parking lot and opened fire on a guy standing in the lot. The guy and an associate then pullled out their own weapons and returned fire. Amazingly, nobody was hurt, although at least one bystander's car was riddled with bullet holes.