Advertisement

Bar's owners say security is better now

July 19, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - The owners of Zipper's bar on Wednesday told Washington County liquor officials that security at the Jonathan Street bar has been upgraded since May, when a man was fatally shot there during an altercation.

Randy Jones, owner of the Zipper's building, said he recently spent $7,000 to install five security cameras to deter crime. In addition, the bar purchased a metal-detecting wand to scan people for weapons, he said.

Jones appeared before the Washington County Board of License Commissioners after he recently received a notice to appear, accused of violating a Hagerstown noise ordinance that states liquor establishments must operate "in such a manner as to avoid disturbing the peace, safety and quiet of the neighborhood."

The board members discussed the shooting, and said they would make a decision within 30 days to determine whether Zipper's violated the ordinance.

Advertisement

If the board finds that the ordinance was violated, the bar could lose its liquor license.

Christopher Jason Ayala, 23, of Greencastle, Pa., was pronounced dead May 22 at Washington County Hospital shortly after he was shot at Zipper's.

Police are looking for a suspect, Stephen Lamar Urquhart, 26, of New York, in connection with the shooting. He is a black with black hair and brown eyes, according to police. He is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs about 270 pounds, police said.

Jones also told the board Wednesday that he explored hiring off-duty police officers to work security at the bar, but nixed that idea after a city official told him not to deal with the local police. He did not reveal the identity of the city official.

The shooting has had a negative impact on Zipper's business, but "not all money is good money," Jones said, referring to troublemakers who used to frequent the bar.

He said Zipper's now caters to an older, mellower clientele, comprised mostly of military veterans, and suggested to the board that he might convert the bar into a private club or social hall, such as a VFW or AMVETS.

Jones' son, three regular patrons and a security specialist attended the hearing to offer support to Jones.

"I really feel that those cameras are going to have a big impact," said Frank Nobles, a Zipper's customer.

Hagerstown Police Department Capt. Charles Summers asked Jones to grant officers access to the cameras, so police could monitor the bar while customers are there.

Jones said he had no problem with Summers' request.

"We bought the property because we see a long-term invested interest in the community," he said.

Police Chief Arthur Smith testified that Jones and his son, Randall Jones, who manages Zipper's, have made an effort since the shooting to prevent criminal behavior at the bar.

"They just need to follow through with (finishing the safety measures) they started," Smith said.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|