Schenectady

Hamilton Hill neighborhood group wants bar closed after fatal shooting

A Mohawk Ambulance EMT performs CPR on a gun shot victim in the parking lot of the Tropics Restaurant & Bar on Brandywine Avenue on Sept. 5. Three people in total were shot that night.
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A Mohawk Ambulance EMT performs CPR on a gun shot victim in the parking lot of the Tropics Restaurant & Bar on Brandywine Avenue on Sept. 5. Three people in total were shot that night.

SCHENECTADY – A petition signed by 34 members of the Hamilton Hill Neighborhood Association is asking the City Council to close Tropics Restaurant and Bar.

The petition comes on the heels of the recent fatal shooting of a 23-year-old Albany man in the parking lot of the business.

E-Shawn Amir Berkley was found with a gunshot wound to his chest in the business’s parking lot at 201 S. Brandywine Ave on Sept. 5

There were two other shooting victims – a 27-year-old woman found in the parking lot with a gunshot wound to her leg, and a 22-year old man who arrived at a local hospital with a gunshot wound to his abdomen.

However, the owners of the restaurant contested the petition.

Co-owner Mavis Diaram said in an email the business has video footage that shows the shooter and fatal shooting victim hadn’t patronized Tropics that evening.

Diaram said the three shooting victims were at the Speedway gas station next door, then stopped for two women that were leaving the bar. 

The petition, signed by 34 members of the association, and turned in to the city clerk Sept. 10 by association President Marva Isaacs, asks the city to close the business after it alleged prolonged efforts and outreach to the owner and police to address crime weren’t acted upon.

In addition to the fatal shooting, the petition cited repeated loud music, revving of loud car engines at 2 a.m., broken bottles on the sidewalk, and loud vulgar language.

“We believe that since the establishment has not taken actions to remedy or to consider the concerns of the community it should be closed,” the petition stated.

Isaacs didn’t return a voicemail seeking comment Thursday.

Mayor Gary McCarthy said Thursday the city is reviewing the request.

A police spokesman said in a message: “We are aware of the complaints being made by residents and we are assessing the area to see what can be done about specific complaints.”

Diaram said the bar opened its lounge at about 10:35 p.m. Sept. 4, and closed it about 1 a.m. Sept. 5 to assist the Schenectady Police Department with its investigation.

Diaram said in an email that two of the shooting victims stopped for two women that were leaving the bar, one of whom got caught in crossfire.

In Mavis and Vakanand Diaram’s written statement to the city contesting the petition, the co-owners said there’s an ongoing issue with crime in the neighborhood, and suggested the neighboring Speedway gas station and convenience store that is open 24 hours a day contributed to those concerns.

The owners asked the city to cut the gas station’s hours to an 11 p.m. closure because that business is “overwhelmed” with cars and patrons that use obscene behavior and continue to act without accountability, according to the Diaram’s statement.

The Diarams described their venue as a family-oriented business whose menu consists of “authentic West Indian/Caribbean food.” They said their private lounge space has been used by City Council members to hold meetings for Schenectady’s Caribbean Day.

“We aren’t just a bar…, we are a part of this growing community,” the statement read. “We have a lot to offer and the potential to grow in this location.”

Reporter Brian Lee can be reached at 518-419-9766 or [email protected]

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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