On April 6, detectives visited New Moon Villa Restaurant on Edinboro Street and asked day manager and co-owner John Chen if the restaurant had working surveillance cameras. He said it did. They then wrote him a series of citations for incidents stretching back to a gang shootout in August that left six with gunshot injuries - because at each of the incidents, a restaurant manager told investigators the cameras pointing at the restaurant door, which might have yielded clues about the incidents, weren't working.
At a Boston Licensing Board hearing today, Chen said his aging video and computer system just kept failing faster than he could get pieces of it repaired and that, finally, yes, he's realized he needs to buy a brand-new system and that, maybe, he could have one installed in another month or so. An angry board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini said that's not good enough, especially since Chen and attoney John Lee Diaz were before the board in May on the same issue and yet the restaurant still doesn't have a reliable video system.
"There are people with guns and knives and violent incidents happening outside their place" and that answer just doesn't cut it, Pulgini said. "The board is not happy about this."
In addition to the gang shootout, which ended with 27 shell casings outside New Moon Villa and one blood-soaked victim trying to escape through its kitchen, the restaurant's cameras also failed to record an incident March 19, in which several men, after trying to skip on their bill, went outside and headed to their car, only to reverse course and run away when they saw cops near the car - which turned out to have a gun sitting in a door panel. The video system also failed just in time for a stabbing on March 8 that began as an argument inside the restaurant.
Separately, and not related to the camera charges, the restaurant also had to answer for a May 6 incident in which an argument between two tables of men spilled outside and one of the groups turned on a bystander who had nothing to do with the beef. When two men down the street moved in to try to break up the fight, police say, one of the attackers lifted up his turquoise sweatshirt to show off his gun and snarl "Do you wanna get shot in the ass?" a Boston Police detective testified today.
All of the incidents happened at or after 3 a.m.
Today's hearing was a continuation - and expansion of - a hearing on the August shootout between the Columbia Point Dawgs and the Greenwood Street Posse. Pulgini suspended it so that Chen and Diaz could round all the workers who were on duty that night and an interpreter. Today, Chen tried to answer board questions, but was having difficulty until Denny Ching, a neighborhood liaison in the mayor's office called by the board, stepped in to interpret.
After it came out that the restaurant was still having video probems - even after the May session - and that Chen still hadn't actually hired somebody to install a new system, board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini said she'd had enough. She asked how long it could possibly take to get a working system: Chen and Diaz said the problem was that a new system was expensive.
Even Diaz seemed to express some frustration with his client, at one point mentioning that he's a former miltary attorney from Missouri and that he's told his clients "I'm more concerned with show me than tell me."