GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement officers painted an alarming picture of the night a contracted guard allegedly shot and killed 19-year-old Pedro Alegria outside of the Blind Tiger. But the attorney for the Greensboro venue says it is not the venue’s fault and ALE is unjustly targeting the Blind Tiger.
Alegria was shot and killed in the parking lot that the venue shares with other businesses on that corridor on July 31.
Blind Tiger owner Bradford McCauley, 47, of Winston-Salem, has since been charged with failing to superintend and hiring unlicensed armed security. Manager Donald Beck Jr., 55, of Greensboro, was charged with allowing violations to occur on the ABC-licensed premises and hiring unlicensed armed security.
Security contractor Jason Leonard, 28, — who was earlier charged with second-degree murder in connection to the shooting — and Anthony Delaney, 28, both of Greensboro, were charged with providing unlicensed armed security and allowing violations to occur on the ABC-licensed premises.
The North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission suspended the ABC permits for the venue after ABC officials reviewed affidavits submitted by NC ALE special agents and officers of the Greensboro Police Department. On Wednesday, the Blind Tiger filed a motion asking the courts to issue a stay of the suspension and grant a temporary restraining order to prevent ALE from enforcing the suspension.
‘Misguided and arrogant’
When asked how the owners were feeling Thursday, Blind Tiger attorney Amiel Rossabi said, “They’re feeling sad, of course, because someone died outside of their facility. They are feeling angry at the abuse of power by the ALE agents and the just inaccurate reporting of other events going back now a couple years that are not only inaccurate but have no either factual support or legal support. By that, we mean no violations that come with it.”
Rossabi is referring to ALE testimony included in the 21-page summary of the deadly shooting filed on Aug. 5. That summary described the moments leading up to and after Alegria’s death and the alleged events of that night, including underage drinking, a guard brandishing a gun, a guard hiding the weapon used to kill Alegria, employees trying to keep police from entering the venue and people trying to wash blood off of a brick wall at the venue.
Rossabi said Thursday that “the Alcohol Law Enforcement affidavits are wrong and inaccurate.”
“The Blind Tiger and its owners have been maliciously, unlawfully and wrongfully maligned by some in the media and some on social media and have been damaged by misguided and arrogant alcohol law enforcement officers who have abused their power and given false, inaccurate information to the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Commission which led to a summary suspension of the ABC permits for the Blind Tiger in violation of North Carolina law,” Rossabi said.
He added that “false and inaccurate statements” have been disseminated to the Blind Tiger’s competitors and others “who wish to capitalize on this tragic event because they have some other ax to grind.”
McCauley and Justus Ellis, one of the security contractors who was working that night, filed their own affidavits Wednesday offering their perspectives.
McCauley says the business and staff cooperated with law enforcement, voluntarily gave police the video footage “almost immediately” and helped to identify the shooter as Jason Leonard. He says he told police as soon as he found out that a gun that was potentially connected to the shooting was in an office desk.
Of the shooting itself, McCauley said he reviewed the footage and it appears to show the guard, who was not supposed to have a gun, approaching the group with a weapon drawn when one of the people involved in the fight had “inadvertent contact” with the guard’s arm, causing the gun to fire.
Ellis corroborated that security contractors were “under clear instruction that no firearms are allowed at any time, anywhere on the premises.”
‘That’s not an act we can be responsible for.’
Rossabi said that the deadly shooting was not the fault of the Blind Tiger, even though the alleged shooter was a contracted worker at the venue, the victim had been inside the venue and the shooting happened in the venue’s shared parking lot.
When it comes to underage people in the venue, Rossabi says the Blind Tiger did nothing wrong.
“They’re allowed to get in,” the attorney said of people under the age of 21. “They checked IDs, and they’re allowed to get in. There’s a wristband situation, so there were absolutely underage people there, but those underage people were not served by us, and they were periodically checked. Tables were periodically checked so underage people could not drink.”
In response to claims that underage people were drinking alcohol, he says the Blind Tiger had taken reasonable steps to avoid that. While a bottle of liquor may have been on the table, he says that the bottle was “key locked” so only employees could serve alcohol. McCauley said in an affidavit that members of Alegria’s group appeared to destroy the security mechanism on the bottle at the table so that they could drink freely.
The gunshot was allegedly fired by a man who was not supposed to have a gun at the venue in the first place.
“We can’t be responsible for a criminal act that we had no control over and no knowledge of,” Rossabi said. “It’s an intentional criminal act that is not within the course and scope of our 1099 workers’ responsibilities. Some guy comes over to paint your house, and he goes over to the neighbor next door and breaks and enters. Yeah, he’s on our time. He’s working for us. That’s not an act we can be responsible for.”
When it comes to the hidden guns, the attorney places the blame on Beck, the venue’s manager.
“Our manager, who we fired. We do not condone what he did, and it’s as simple as that,” he said.
And when it comes to not letting police in, the attorney says the Blind Tiger did not want any weapons in the venue, even those held by police officers.
“Anybody who is armed should not come into a facility that is governed by the ALE,” he said in reference to allegations that Blind Tiger employees would not allow police in. “That’s why our direction to our security people is ‘Don’t be armed. You may not come in here with weapons.'”
In each of these cases, Rossabi said the Blind Tiger took the necessary precautions, so he says the blame should not fall on the venue, but he also said he did not want to cast blame on the teen who was killed or his family.
“Yes, whatever they did at the birthday, it appears they went too far, but let’s make this clear,” he said. “Our direction and our focus is on the inappropriate actions of the ALE. This family, who went too far with the service of alcohol and otherwise, they lost their son. They lost their nephew. They lost a 19-year-old young man, so we’re not putting any blame on them. It’s just terrible.”