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Salem police investigate stabbing, fights involving bar patrons over weekend

Posted by Ryan Mooney  October 1, 2012 01:35 PM

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Salem police are investigating practices at the Bangkok Paradise restaurant on Washington Street after recent incidents at the establishment, including two melees involving patrons leaving late Friday night into early Saturday morning, one of which resulted in the stabbing of a 23-year-old across the street from the bar.

Captain Tom Griffin said that detectives have been probing incidents that have taken place over the last six weeks at restaurant including problems with serving underage customers, and will be forwarding information to the licensing board for possible action.

"There are different things that are in the process of being brought before the licensing board," Griffin said. "We've sent letters to them to come before the board and they're going to be coming in front of the board shortly to address some of the issues."

Police said that, just this past weekend, officers responded to three incidents involving patrons of the Thai-themed bar and restaurant.

But J. P. Story, a lawyer for the restaurant, questioned the fairness of blaming Bangkok Paradise for the weekend incidents.

"The Washington Street area has a concentration of night life all letting out at approximately the same time, in the early morning hours on the weekends, and it is unfair to single out any one venue," Story said in an e-mail.

According to a police report, Sergeant David Tucker observed a large, unruly group in front of the bar while on routine patrol downtown just before 1 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Tucker described the incident in the report as "approximately 50 people engaged in fighting or running to/from those fighting directly in front of Bangkok Paradise."

The crowd was dispersed as more officers arrived, and no arrests were made, but Tucker pointed out specifically in his report the inability or unwillingness of the Bangkok Paradise bouncers to keep the crowd under control.

"It should be noted that the bouncers employed by Bangkok Paradise were either ineffective (or unwilling to attempt) dispersing their patrons," Tucker wrote.

Less than 10 minutes later, police responded to a report of a possible brawl on Church Street. Officers did not find anyone actively fighting upon arrival, according to a police report, but approximately 20 people were dispersed from the area. One intoxicated male, Justin J. Dow, of 26 Commercial Street in Lynn, was taken into protective custody, and arrested at the police station after the discovery of two active warrants for him.

At about 1:10 a.m., police responded to North Shore Medical Center on a report of a Lynn man who showed up in the emergency room with a stab wound. According to Griffin, the 23-year-old victim and his friend said they had been leaving the Bangkok Paradise when they got caught up in the commotion.

Griffin said that the victim was cut across the street from the bar, but had little other information. Griffin said the man's injuries were not serious, certainly not life-threatening, but Griffin was unable to say if he had been released from the hospital yet.

Story addressed the incident in his email, writing "[...] an unfortunate incident occurred in front of what used to be the Greenland Cafe, which is actually across the Street from the Bangkok Paradise...once aware of the incident, the trained Bangkok Paradise staff knew better than to run across Washington Street to blindly get involved and risk serious injury."

No one has been arrested in connection with the stabbing, and police have no suspects. Police have not spoken with the victim yet.

"We'll pick up the investigation today when Detective [Thomas] Brennan gets here and try and interview the victim himself," Griffin said. "And obviously photograph the injury, and see if we can find out who might have been involved, if it was just a random thing where they happened to walk out of the bar at the time when this was going on or if there was something more involved.

"Obviously those are questions we're going to be anticipating getting answered."

Griffin said that minor commotions around last-call and closing time for all of the bars downtown are not uncommon, but a ruckus like this is rare. Griffin was surprised by the stabbing given how hard it was raining out at the time.

"At that time of night we tend to focus more of our resources downtown, for the obvious reasons, where all the bars are letting out, just to kind of nip that stuff in the bud," Griffin said. "So from that area down to Derby Street, all around the downtown area we usually have a few more police officers than normal."

Ryan Mooney can be reached at globe.mooney@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mooney_ryan.

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