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Police increase presence at local bar

June 18, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Due to two stabbings in a month's time and several reported fights at Barracuda Surf Bar, the Hagerstown Police Department has stepped up its presence at the Dual Highway club, Sgt. Paul Kifer said.

On Thursday night, between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m., 23 police officers, assisted by Maryland State Police troopers and fire police, made three drunken-driving arrests outside the bar during a special patrol of the area, which was "a direct result of the problems we were having at Barracuda," Kifer said.

Police used dogs trained to sniff for drugs, explosives and guns in the patrol, called a traffic slowdown, in which officers stop vehicles that have visible equipment problems or motorists who are in violation of traffic laws, Kifer said.

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Traffic slowdowns are intended to "identify people transporting handguns," Kifer said, but police won't ignore other violations. No weapons were found in the patrol Thursday night, he said.

Kifer said traffic slowdowns will occur at Barracuda periodically throughout the summer.

"We're gonna do what we have to do to make sure we can keep the general public safe," he said.

The bar, which temporarily and voluntarily closed its doors for about a week following a stabbing there two weeks ago, reopened Thursday with a changed dress code, Kifer said. Barracuda also voluntarily changed its maximum capacity allowed at the bar from more than 600 to 480, he said.

An appearance by DJ Mad, who was scheduled to appear at the bar Saturday night, was canceled, Kifer said.

According to a sign at Barracuda's entrance, the following items now are prohibited: tank tops, "wife beaters," sweats, hats or head gear, and jerseys, among others.

Owner Todd Hancock said Thursday night that increased security was added at the bar, but he would not comment on specifics or on any recent incidents.

"It's a done thing, the subject has blown over," he said.

Robert Everhart, chairman of the Washington County Licensing Commission, said Barracuda has not been sanctioned as a result of the reported violence.

The most recent stabbing occurred June 5, when a fight broke out involving more than 20 people just before 1 a.m., leaving at least one man with stab wounds to his torso, Kifer has said.

Rinaldo Malan Carter, 21, of 19519 Gunters Bridge Road in Germantown, Md., was taken to Washington County Hospital after police discovered he had several puncture wounds and lacerations to his torso, Kifer said. Two managers also were assaulted in the fight, he said.

Carter was treated at the hospital and released, a hospital spokeswoman said June 9.

Kifer said police believe the bar policy is that anyone who enters the club must present identification and be checked with a metal detector wand before being admitted.

Carter and four other men, all from Germantown, Gaithersburg and District Heights, Md., were charged through criminal citations with disorderly conduct, Kifer said.

On May 13, a man went to Frederick (Md.) Memorial Hospital complaining of a stab wound to his upper lip, which he said occurred at Barracuda. He left the hospital before Frederick Police Department officers arrived about 5 a.m., Kifer said.

Kifer also said several other fights were reported at the club, including one on a teen night, which have caused the department concern.

Anyone with information on the June 5 fight may call Detective George Brandt at the police department. Brandt's department phone number is 301-790-3700, ext. 242.

Staff writer Brian Shappell contributed to this story.

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