Schenectady’s Saw Mill Tavern liquor license suspended after July 15 shooting, ‘escalating violence’

A shooting victim is placed on a stretcher at the scene early July 15

A shooting victim is placed on a stretcher at the scene early July 15

SCHENECTADY The State Liquor Authority suspended the license of the Saw Mill Tavern on Friday, citing “escalating violence” at the South Avenue bar that culminated in a shooting last week.

The decision came at a special meeting of the board Friday. Effective immediately, no alcohol can be sold or consumed on the premises.

In a news release, the SLA said the move was prompted by a series of violent incidents emanating from inside the bar. 

In the past year alone, Schenectady police responded 13 times for shootings and assaults, as well as 30 calls to 911 for intoxicated or noisy patrons, burglaries and robberies, the SLA said.

Early on the morning of July 15, a man was shot in the leg there and a woman was shot in the foot.

The SLA charged the Saw Mill with four violations of Alcoholic Beverage Control Law: operating a disorderly premises, becoming a focal point of police attention, sustained pattern of noise and disorder and failure to adequately supervise. The maximum penalty for these charges is revocation of license.

The SLA took the action summarily, an immediate suspension reserved under the State Administrative Procedure Act for situations where the agency finds that public health, safety or welfare requires emergency action. 

It is not a final determination — the licensee still is entitled to a prompt hearing before an administrative law judge.

The SLA said it will prosecute the charges, the maximum penalty for which is revocation of the license.

“It is clear that there has been a troubling and escalating pattern of violence and disorder emanating from this location,” SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley said in a news release. “This business has failed to uphold their most basic obligations as a licensee, and the Board is taking action to protect public safety and support local law enforcement.”

The biker bar at the corner of North Jay Street and South Avenue in the city’s Little Italy neighborhood is a local landmark.

Longtime owner Don Birch was legendary for his generosity and compassion, organizing an annual toy drive for needy children and hosting a free Sunday buffet for anyone who was hungry, both for nearly a third of a century.

After his death in 2017, the corner was renamed Don Birch Way in his honor.

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Categories: -News-, Schenectady, Schenectady County

One Comment

William Marincic

Sad, things changed since Don died, in the old days we took care of the problems ourselves and there were no problems. 

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