NORTH ADAMS — In the wake of a shooting incident last month, Key West Lounge will be required to have a person working the door Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 p.m. to closing.
The bar must also close by 1 a.m. — an hour earlier than its previous closing time — until at least June 30.
The city’s Licensing Commission made that ruling on Tuesday in response to the Feb. 19 shooting incident, in which police said two people were shot and injured after a fight that broke out in the lounge. Paul Douglas Starbird, 19, was arrested and has pleaded not guilty to charges including two counts of armed assault with intent to murder.
Video footage does not show the bar serving the underage suspect, but he was seen drinking from a water bottle in his jacket pocket “a number of times throughout the evening,” Police Chief Jason Wood said at Tuesday’s hearing. “After reviewing the report, data and video footage, I have concerns that this tragic incident could have been avoided.”
Suspects in the shooting were allowed back in the bar after an altercation and staff did not notify police after an altercation or after a gun was seen in the bar, Wood said.
Bartenders didn’t call police after an altercation because they didn’t notice it, according to owner Michael Bloom. “That’s how fast it happened,” he said.
He also said bartenders are TIPS certified, told to card anyone under 40, and told to call the police when there are issues. “We very rarely have any problems,” he said.
Officer John Beaudreau told the commission that the bouncer told him he saw a firearm brandished in the bar that night.
“Wouldn’t it be normal practice in an establishment like that if a door person saw a gun, he wouldn’t alert everyone in the establishment and almost make those bartenders notify the police,” asked commission member Rosemari Dickinson, “just for the fact that it could be a dangerous situation?”
Bloom said he agreed. “I think it should have been done right away,” he said.
Wood said he reviewed security footage and said “there was there was nobody that stood out in that video as acting as a door person. So if he was working there in that capacity he wasn’t doing a very good job at it.” Bloom told the board there was a doorman working that night, and he has since fired that person.
In the past, the bar has done what the commission has asked, like putting in cameras, said commission member Peter Breen. But he added, “the time before this in 2016, it was a knife fight, and that was bad. This is a gun. So we’re kind of escalating the circumstances. So you need to work with us to make sure that these things don’t get worse.”
After the board made its decision, a resident spoke in public comment to express their frustrations about the bar.
“People are afraid to speak out on this,” said Dan Berger, a nearby resident. “They are afraid because there are gunshots happening. And it’s 1 p.m. on a Tuesday and not many people can make it here, too. ... Something’s got to give.”