At least one of the many witnesses police corralled following the shooting in front of Sangillo’s Tavern on Hampshire Street in January said the man who was shot and paralyzed may have been a bystander.
The witness said the gunman appeared to be shooting at a group of four men in a parking lot across from the tavern, but that the bullet struck the victim instead. Police have not identified the 24-year-old victim. No one has been arrested in the case.
The witness said a group of men had been arguing inside Sangillo’s. When the bar closed and everyone went outside, the gunman pulled out a handgun and fired.
The account comes from one of 19 police reports concerning Sangillo’s included in the Portland City Council’s information packet for a hearing on whether to renew the tavern’s liquor license. Portland police have requested that the license not be renewed, citing 23 police calls to the tavern in less than a year, including several for fights as well as the shooting. The council delayed action on the license until April 7. The names of all the participants had been redacted.
The shooting and other incidents in the past year in and around Sangillo’s show the tavern poses a safety risk, Assistant Chief Vern Malloch said.
Malloch said police reports on the shooting were included so city counselors could see for themselves the impact a bar can have on a neighborhood.
“It’s a case we’re referencing and it plays a significant role, although it’s not the sole factor, in our recommendation for denial,” Malloch said. “We think it’s directly related to the increasing disturbances at the bar.”
A lawyer for Sangillo’s has argued that the tavern has taken steps to better regulate patrons’ behavior and should not be blamed for all the police calls that occur around its downtown location.
As part of the shooting investigation, detectives are re-interviewing witnesses and waiting for ballistics information to come back from the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Lt. James Sweatt said.
Police recovered a .45 caliber handgun that one of the men running from the bar afterward apparently hid nearby. Sweatt said even linking the gun to a person – the reports suggest police were interested in matching DNA from the gun to a suspect – isn’t conclusive. They would have to be sure that was the gun that was used and correlate that information with witness statements and information from the security video.
“We need to connect the dots,” he said. “We want to have a conclusive case, make sure all the evidence, not just forensic but also people evidence is thoroughly complete before we send it to the district attorney’s office.”
Sweatt said police believe they know many of the participants in the shooting, but are not ready to make an arrest or seek an indictment.
Police reports included in the council packets describe the following on the night of the shooting. The names of all the participants had been redacted.
At 1:21 a.m., Officer Kali Hagerty reported that she heard a series of shots fired near Sangillo’s on Hampshire Street.
Immediately, officers from around the city rushed to the area, taking positions on India Street, Franklin Arterial and Congress Street as well as the intersection of Hampshire and Middle streets.
In front of the bar, Officer Brent Abbott found a 24-year old man leaning up against a car, crying out in pain.
Abbott asked where he had been shot and the man couldn’t tell him and said his entire body hurt.
Abbott and Sgt. Tim Farris found three .45 caliber shells near where he was lying.
“The subject that was shot actually held up one of the spent shells and showed us,” Abbott wrote.
They found a bullet entry wound behind his right armpit.
Meanwhile, Hagerty had chased a suspect up Hampshire Street toward 290 Congress St., the location of a Rite Aid drug store and other businesses.
In the parking lot, police had caught a man running away from them a short distance from a trash dumpster on the north side of the Rite Aid. They searched him and found what police described as a large amount of marijuana in his vest pocket and $1,950 in his pants pocket.
Officers also caught another person in the area across the parking lot.
Some workers who happened to be in the parking lot at the time told police they saw one of the men drop something under the dumpster.
There, Officer Paul Rozzi found a black semiautomatic .45 caliber handgun, the same caliber as the shell casings officers found in front of the bar.
The report describes how Rozzi handled the weapon, using gloves, and says he had no physical contact with either of the suspects before he handled the weapon. That could prove important as police work to match any DNA found on the gun with either of the suspects, because it suggests Rozzi could not have inadvertently contaminated the weapon with the DNA of either suspect.
Officers interviewed Sangillo’s patrons and learned that an argument had broken out in the bar shortly before the shooting.
One witness said a man had started arguing with a number of people, including a woman.
Another witness said about 10 people were clustered at one end of the bar when he heard one of them say “That’s going to be $25.” He said it caught his attention because he thought he was overhearing a drug deal.
Then a man in the group, who was extremely agitated, threatened another man at the bar and had to be restrained by others in the group, a witness said.
Another witness told police he was standing next to his friend outside when he heard pops and realized his friend had been shot. He didn’t see a gun or the man who fired the shots.
One of the men caught running from Sangillo’s turned out to be a 19-year-old. In reviewing Sangillo’s security tape, police determined the underage man had gone into Sangillo’s at 12:14 a.m., and another customer had passed him a drink, and so Hagerty on Feb. 10 issued the bar a citation for allowing a minor to remain on the premises.
Katherine Sangillo, the bar’s manager, was upset when presented with the summons as police investigated early in the morning and began crying, the report said.
She said she had driven an hour into town at 3 a.m. after the shooting to give police access to the security video.
According to Hagerty, Sangillo said she “could not believe that with everything she did to help, in any way she could to assist with the shooting investigation … that they turned around and decided to use that very assistance against her.”
Malloch said Thursday the infraction is not something minor that should be overlooked in the investigation of more serious crimes.
“This is the same behavior we cited them for in October and (about which) they didn’t respond to the liquor board at all,” he said. “We’re very concerned when we have a 19-year-old drinking and peripherally involved in and present when gunshots are being fired outside that bar.”
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: