The city's efforts to close Smokey Joe's are on hold pending a decision by the appeals court.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The stabbing of a 19-year-old Boardman man at Smokey Joe's Lounge on Market Street means another hurdle the bar must leap in its efforts to stay open.
"This latest incident is the type we will argue in court," Dana C. Guarnieri, an assistant city law director, said Tuesday. The city wants the bar to be closed as a nuisance.
In commenting on the victim's age, Guarnieri said the state allows underage patrons in liquor establishments, some of which use a hand stamp at the door to let the bartender know they should not be served alcohol.
The stabbing happened about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Patrolmen Robert Joliff and Jason Simon interviewed Vincent Atwood at St. Elizabeth Health Center, where he received stitches. The Oakridge Drive man told them that he was at Smokey Joe's and began fighting with one man, and then another man approached and slashed his left ear, right arm and lower left side.
Atwood told the officers that he and his assailants left the bar at the same time. He saw them get into a black or dark green Pontiac and drive north on Market.
Atwood, reached at home, told The Vindicator that the fight started as he left the bar and that he got stabbed across the street. He wasn't sure what started the fight, saying he couldn't recall what the first man said to him before throwing a punch.
Awaiting ruling: The city's steps to close the bar at 2722 Market in the Uptown district can't proceed until a decision is reached by the 7th District Court of Appeals, which is considering an appeal by the bar operators to keep Atty. Stephen R. Garea on the case. A judge ruled that Garea had a conflict of interest, Guarnieri said.
The city had Smokey Joe's padlocked last November when a judge issued a temporary restraining order. The city took action in response to merchants and neighbors who complained about underage sales, property damage, shootings and unruly crowds that spill into the street at closing time.
Operator's remarks: Joseph M. Gabriel III of Boardman, one of the bar operators, said Tuesday that he wasn't aware of a stabbing taking place inside the bar. He learned from the manager that someone ran inside who had been cut.
Gabriel said that he couldn't comment on the pending court case but that he's eager to have it go forward so his side can be heard. He said that on weekends the bar caters to the 21-and-older crowd only and checks identification at the door, where patrons receive a hand stamp. Everyone gets patted down, and no purses are allowed.
During the week, those 18 and over are allowed in "just to have bodies" but they are not served alcohol, he said.
Gabriel acknowledged that large crowds do gather outside and he said he's glad for the police presence. He said when police are around, there are no problems, such as the shootings in July, which he has on videotape.
Two brothers were shot, one critically, outside the bar at 1 a.m. July 20. Police found Nakia L. Sharpe, 26, of Fairgreen Avenue lying across the street in front of 2733 Market, where he'd run after being shot several times. Derek S. Sharpe, 23, also of Fairgreen, suffered a gunshot wound to the anus. Police found him in the back seat of a car with its headlights off that they stopped at Market and Federal Plaza 10 minutes after the shooting.