The Boston Licensing Board voted today to levy a four-day suspension on Garage, 20 Linden St. in Allston after finding club managers and security staff failed to let police know about a fight inside that may have led to a double shooting minutes later outside on Nov. 15 and that they managed to hinder, whether deliberately or not, a still active investigation into that shooting.
Garage owner Alex Matov shut the club following the shootings - in which a bullet went through one man's shoulder, then hit a second man in the mouth - and it remains closed to this day. Matov told the board at a hearing yesterday this was so he could regroup and hire and train all new staff. The board said it would only set a date for suspension after the club re-opens for business.
Board members cited the shutdown in their deliberations today, as part of consideration of a citation for failure to cooperate with police. With the club shut, police say they had trouble finding Matov and the head of the security company on duty that night for their investigation. One detective said that when he and other detectives arrived at the club a couple days after the shooting, employees there refused to talk to them and told them to call the club's attorney.
In fact, yesterday's hearing turned into something of a police investigation itself as two detectives peppered Matov, his attorney and the head of the security company with questions about just what happened that night - including whether they had any video or leads to social-media video that might show the shooting, since the club's own parking-lot video cut out right before and during the shooting.
The three said they have always tried to cooperate fully with police, said there might have been some simple miscommunication and that they will get police whatever information they can.
In addition to holding a four-day suspension in abeyance, the board also voted that before Garage can re-open, Matov has to file a detailed re-opening plan, to include information about security and staff training - including the importance of cooperating with police - and contact information for all the new employees. The club will also have to give the board contact information for all promoters it allows to operate on the premises - the night of the shooting, police got held up with one promoter who refused to tell them who he was or what he had seen.
According to police and the club, shortly before 12:30 a.m. that night, security moved to get people off the tables and chairs they were dancing on. One table dancer shoved the bouncer trying to get him down, which pushed him into another table, opening a gash and getting the people there upset with the table dancer's party.
Tempers began to flare, and security decided it was time to call it a night. The club turned off the music, raised the lights and began ushering people out - keeping people from one of the fighting parties inside to keep them from tangling with the other table outside. About five minutes later, a shot rang out in the parking lot.
The head of the security concern on duty that night testified that the man hit in the shoulder got himself to the hospital. The man shot in the mouth, "was kind of out of it, running around and moving." He said he and other staffers tried to get him to sit down. "Eventually, he kind of collapsed and stayed in one place."
The club's attorney, Kurt Bletzer, said the club has been unable to figure out it the shooter was a patron or if he had driven up to pick somebody else. He said he doubted the man came into the club with the gun because everybody is patted down on entry.
The board also cited the club for not calling police after the fight that may have lead to the shooting. Bletzer said the manager on duty that night did call police, but police and the board said that was for the shooting, that somebody should have called police after the fight, especially because it involved punching and a bouncer getting injured.
At the conclusion of the hearing, board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce addressed Matov specifically and said he needs to not only train his new workers that they must cooperate with police investigations and that he needs to provide a phone number where he or another manager can be reached day or night. He then provided his number.
In the long run, the board may not have to deal with the club, which Joyce said has had issues in the past, because a development group - that includes Matov - has city approval to tear its building down to put up a 349-unit apartment complex.