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Stamford Mayor, Police Chief Reassure Business Owners After Shooting

Sol Levitan, manager of 84 W. Park Place, speaks during a meeting with Columbus Park business people, Mayor David Martin and Police Chief Jonathan Fontneau following the shooting early Sunday in downtown Stamford. Photo Credit: Frak MacEachern
Stamford Mayor David Martin, center, flanked by Police Chief Jonathan Fontneau and Sandy Goldstein, president of the Downtown Special Services District, listens during a meeting to discuss a shooting in Columbus Park early Sunday. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Bar owner Bobby Valentine, left, and other business people from Columbus Park meet with Mayor David Martin and Police Chief Jonathan Fontneau to discuss a shooting in Columbus Park in which five people were wounded and a Stamford man was arrested. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Two days after a shooting in Columbus Park, Alejandro Lopez was still angry at Tino's, the nightclub that he said is the root of the problems in downtown Stamford.

"It's always something there. There is always an argument, always a fight, that place is a mess," said Lopez, who owns Gastro Bar and Azuca at 78 W. Park Place. He owns and operates the establishments with other family members and held a grand opening two weeks ago.

Lopez spoke out after five people were wounded in a street shooting early Sunday near his restaurants. A Stamford man shot into a crowd after a dispute about a woman at Tino's, police said. Dayron Marquis Wills, 22, was arrested and held in custody on $1 million bond. The incident was captured on a video by a bystander and released by police.

In a meeting Monday with area business people, Mayor David Martin announced that the owners of Tino's -- Alice Lei and Alex Poon -- had voluntarily suspended their liquor license and would cease operations as of Tuesday. Also, the owners will remove the Tino's sign from the building at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Martin made the announcement after a meeting with Columbus Park business owners Monday afternoon.

Lopez and other business owners met with  Martin and Police Chief Jonathan Fontneau in the Downtown Special Services District offices at Landmark Square on Monday to discuss the shooting. Lopez said he had approached someone at Tino's about the noise and the disturbance recently but said his pleas for peace fell on deaf ears.

"He doesn't care what I said," Lopez said. "We put money here to make a nice place and next door, I don't know, but they have the wrong people for Stamford."

Many of the disruptive patrons Lopez spoke about are from out-of-town and attracted by private parties held by promoters, according to Sandy Goldstein, president of the Stamford Downtown Special Services District.

"They have had very, very rowdy bar patrons since they opened," Goldstein said before the meeting with the mayor. "They (Tino's owners) have indicated that it is the private promoter parties which attract mainly an-out-of town clientele that has been the problem.

"These are people that think bars and music are for fights and that's not what our general bar population feels," she said.

In comments at the meeting, Martin - who called the shooting a "senseless and isolated event" - said the city remains safe. But he promised extra police presence at the Alive@Five concert on Thursday and later at night this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

"It's unfortunate that it happened. It's unfortunate that it happened in our downtown," said Martin, who plans to attend B.B. King's concert Wednesday in Columbus Park for the Jazz Up July series. "I, for one, don't feel any sense of security loss or sense of safety loss. I have every confidence in the downtown, and that's where I will be, just to be there."

He also praised the prompt action by police in responding to the scene and arresting the suspect.

Sol Levitan, manager for property owner 84 W. Park Place, told the group that he was disappointed by what happened and said he had spoken to a lawyer about what can be done.

"We can't go backward, we have to go forward," he said, adding that his company prides itself on being a good member of the Stamford community.

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