West Haven Mayor Calls for Change After Fatal Bar Shooting

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Days after a deadly shooting outside a West Haven bar, Mayor Ed O'Brien is calling for action.

    He wants more control over what he calls "problem bars" in the city. In fact, O'Brien said if it were up to him, he would have closed Lager House immediately after Sunday's incident.

    It's the sort of power he wants going forward but not something that residents in West Haven think is necessary.

    "These are people who are trying to make a living," said Victor Otero of West Haven. "These are establishments that have been here for a while."

    Otero feels that giving the city more control over liquor licensing would not solve the problem.

    "If you're going to hold punitive measurements on the establishment just because something happened outside of it, I think that's not right," Otero said.

    He and others were quick to point out that the incident early Sunday morning didn't happen inside the bar.

    Police said the victim may have been involved in a fight inside the bar's bathroom and that continued onto the street.

    But according to O'Brien, "We have fights, we have had the murder as you know, we have had a stabbing, somebody was beat with a baseball bat and it doesn't seem like there's a lot we can do."

    O'Brien, just four weeks on the job, believes West Haven can take action to make the area safer.

    "If we had more control I believe we would have more background checks," he said. "If there was a problem such as a beating, stabbing or a shooting we can immediately close them down and take the permit away."

    As it stands now his city has little influence when it comes to regulating liquor licenses; that job belongs to the state Department of Consumer Protection.

    "If we have a little more control over them, we can weed out these problem establishments," O'Brien said.

    O'Brien says he's just trying to help make the downtown area safer and to attract more business. Yet residents feel otherwise

    "If you're talking about commerce, why would you impede commerce? That's like going in the other direction," Otero added.

    West Haven's current nuisance law only addresses blight.

    The owners of Lager House were not available for comment when NBC Connecticut stopped by Wednesday night.