Little Canada strengthens control over liquor licenses after bar shooting


Marquise Dayshawn Parker

A June 24 shooting outside Hoggsbreath Sports Bar and Nightclub in Little Canada spurred the city to give itself more power over liquor license holders. Mike Munzenrider

Following a June 24 shooting outside a Little Canada bar in which three people were injured, the city has strengthened its ability to regulate liquor license holders.

The Little Canada City Council voted unanimously Aug. 9 to amend the city ordinance regarding liquor licenses, giving the city the ability to place reasonable restrictions on licenses in order “to preserve the public peace and protect and promote good order and security,” as stated in the amendment.

The council also approved a voluntary agreement with the owners of Hoggsbreath Sports Bar and Nightclub, the Rice Street business where the shooting took place earlier this summer, putting in place increased security measures at the bar.

Though the bars and restaurants in the 2500 block of Rice Street in Little Canada are frequently mentioned in the police blotter of this newspaper, City Administrator Joel Hanson said the gun violence was the tipping point.

“The shooting from a couple of weeks ago was the big area of concern,” he said, pointing out the event was followed by many residents voicing their concerns about the situation to the city. “People won’t tolerate that.”

Through the course of July council meetings and workshops, the city put together the ordinance amendment, and also held meetings with Hoggsbreath owner Tom Duray.

“He met with us right away,” Hanson said of Duray. “He’s said and done all the right things.”

 

Proactive response

Speaking at the Aug. 9 meeting, council member Michael McGraw said he liked the direction the city was headed with the liquor license ordinance amendment.

“I’d rather be proactive than reactive and this gives us an opportunity to be proactive,” he said. “It shows licensees in the city exactly where the city stands and what we expect from the establishments.”

The amendment gives the city the ability to place a number of restrictions on a license holder when deemed “reasonable.” It can do so when issuing a new license, renewing a license, after a suspension or a revocation of a license following a hearing, or, as in the case with Hoggsbreath, through a voluntary agreement.

The possible restrictions or requirements the city may impose include limiting the hours that liquor can be sold; putting in place additional security requirements; installing improved lighting; requiring regular meetings with the city; and “any other measures deemed likely to abate or prevent conduct that impacts public peace and security.”

License holders who violate the conditions may have their liquor license revoked, according to the amendment.

 

Voluntary agreement

Duray, who has owned Hoggsbreath for the past 40 years with his wife, Jocelyn, was also at the Aug. 9 meeting. 

Though he said that entering into the agreement with the city was “kind of scary,” he told the council that he and Jocelyn are actively trying to change their business model. 

“Our goal as we’re getting up in age, our goal up at the Hoggsbreath is to move away from the late-night activities that go on and move towards the early evening activities,” he said.

That means bringing in more sports teams and bar bingo, Duray said, pointing out the bar had already expanded its food offerings, seeking to build an older, less rowdy dinner crowd.

“We’re trying to ... “ he said, pausing, “get to the point where we’re not so dependent on our late night activities.”

The agreement between the city and Hoggsbreath runs to some three pages with more than 30 requirements. 

The bar already does some of the things detailed in the agreement, such as enforcing a dress code. 

The bar is also required to pay for a Ramsey County Sheriff’s deputy to patrol its parking lot every Friday and Saturday night when an entertainment event is taking place, from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. The estimated monthly cost of the deputy is more than $2,300.

 

Security measures

The only major issue Duray had with the requirements in the agreement was about security screening.

He said Hoggsbreath already has a screening system in place for Friday and Saturday nights, in which security staffers check purses and men empty their pockets to be checked with a metal-detecting wand.

The agreement called for a similar screening process every night of the week, and that security staffers pat down patrons.

Duray said such measures during dinner hours on a week night would hurt his business and annoy customers, especially families.

“If they had to go through that whole process it would be quite intrusive for them and they wouldn’t come back,” he said.

Council member Rick Montour countered the point with a question that was on the minds of other council members.

“What do I tell a resident of Little Canada if somebody goes in there Wednesday with a gun and shoots somebody?” he asked Duray. “Because we didn’t have wanding.”

Following discussion, the council agreed to eliminate the requirement for pat downs, as well as security checks Sunday through Thursday, though the voluntary agreement can be amended.

 

The shooting

The early morning June 24 shooting that spurred the city to action apparently stemmed from a scuffle near Hoggsbreath.

Police arrested 22-year-old Marquise Dayshawn Parker as the alleged trigger man near the bar following a foot chase. Witnesses told police that Parker was punched and kicked by a group of men in a street adjacent to Hoggsbreath before bar security broke up the fight and Parker left.

Parker allegedly returned to the area with a handgun and from the street shot at a group of people standing outside the bar, hitting a man and two women. The three were not involved in the fight earlier.

A 27-year-old man was grazed on his right calf; a 28-year-old woman was shot through her left calf; and a 26-year-old woman was shot in her buttocks.

According to court documents, Parker allegedly told officers as he was arrested, “I have money, I have money for bail. I’ll be out on Monday.”

Parker was charged with three counts of second-degree felony assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of illegal possession of a firearm. The maximum penalty for a single second-degree assault charge is seven years, a $14,000 fine, or both.

Parker’s first court appearance was June 27. He’s out of jail on $250,000 bail and a pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Sept. 1 in Ramsey County District Court.

 

Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813


Correction: An earlier version of this story said Marquise Dayshawn Parker was involved in a fight inside Hoggsbreath Sports Bar and Nightclub when in fact the fight happened outside the bar on a nearby street. We regret the error.


 

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