GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — As they say, the show must go on.
After a deadly shooting led to the Blind Tiger losing its liquor license and charges being filed against its owner and manager, the popular Greensboro music venue is moving forward with a show scheduled for Thursday.
At 7 p.m., the Blind Tiger’s doors will open for Eighteen Visions, End, Wristmeetrazor and End of Your Rope.
The venue posted the announcement on Facebook just after 5 p.m. on Wednesday. The post elicited several comments—primarily a mixture of surprise and sarcasm—with one commenter writing, “I wonder how losing their liquor license is going to impact business.”
The Blind Tiger has hosted multiple shows since 19-year-old Pedro Alegria was shot and killed in the parking lot that the venue shares with other businesses on that corridor. However, this will be the first since the North Carolina Department of Public Safety announced charges against four people associated with the venue, including the venue’s owner and manager, on Friday amid an investigation by N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement. The venue was not ordered to close.
Owner Bradford McCauley, 47, of Winston-Salem, was 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.
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 Blind Tiger said Leonard worked for a third-party contractor providing security as a bouncer at the venue, but the ALE investigation revealed the bouncer was not licensed through the North Carolina Private Protective Services Board.
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. The summary suspension remains in effect until the case is heard by the Office of Administrative Hearings, the NC ABC Commission said.
A 21-page summary of the deadly shooting, including the testimony of police officers, offered new insight into the moments leading up to and after Alegria’s death.
The teenager was among a group of about 10 people allowed into the venue on Sunday, July 31, a witness told officers according to court affidavits. The witness said no one in their group had to show identification to get in. They only had to tell the bouncer what year they were born. Five of the people in the group were under the age of 21, and nearly all of the group drank alcohol once inside.
The group had a reservation for two VIP tables, which included a bottle of liquor and juice mixes, the documents say. They also bought three buckets of beer.
The witness told police that a man in a separate group sitting nearby said a racial slur in Spanish, referencing some of the people in Alegria’s group. An argument erupted and two of Alegria’s friends and a person at another table began hitting each other. Security guards then kicked them out, but the fight continued in the parking lot.
An ALE agent who had a chance to review the surveillance video said a security guard of the Blind Tiger approached the fight near the front door and brandished a gun before shooting Alegria at about 2:14 a.m. The guard then went back inside.
Inside the Blind Tiger, at about 2:18 a.m., the agent says a second security guard put a gun under papers in the top left drawer of the office desk. Beck, the manager, allegedly put his gun under the desk.
The two security guards then exit view of the camera before one of the guards returns to the office, removes something from his waistband, puts it in the top left drawer of the office desk and covers it with papers. The officer believes this was the suspected murder weapon.
Officers came to the Blind Tiger when they were told about a shooting in the area, according to the GPD.
According to the documents, an officer approached the gate of the Blind Tiger and asked if the victim was inside.
“The employee then moved to stand in front of the gate door to prevent me from entering the business and said ‘no, no victim is inside,'” the officer said in an affidavit. “The employee repeatedly advised that there was no one inside and that the victim was not inside the business.”
Another officer tried to enter the business but two “managers” standing outside “stated it was private property and police could not enter,” according to the documents.
Upon hearing shouting from the rear parking area, officers found Alegria suffering from a gunshot wound to the neck in the rear parking lot “behind the Damn Right Studios (1827 Spring Garden St), which is located in the same parking lot as the Blind Tiger.” Medical assistance was provided, but Alegria died of his injuries at the scene.
As officers investigated near the entrance of the venue, they say they found a single shell casing near the entrance to the parking lot and a trail of blood leading to where Alegria died.
Officers also spotted blood along a short, white brick wall outside the building. An agent, citing surveillance video, said that, at about 2:22 a.m., a man began to clean blood off the brick wall by pouring a bottle of water on it and scrubbing it with his shoes. A woman then uses a bucket of water to wash away the blood.
The police department says they did not find a gun on Alegria.
Who’s at fault?
Since the shooting, Mayor Nancy Vaughan has been vocal in her concerns with the Blind Tiger as legal representation for the venue works to counter the claims against the downtown business.
The morning of the shooting, the Blind Tiger’s attorney issued the following statement to FOX8 shortly after the shooting, denying that the business’s “actions or inactions” lead to Alegria’s death:
“The Blind Tiger is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of a young man’s life outside of the Blind Tiger building. This young man’s death was not caused by any actions or inactions of the Blind Tiger and could have happened anywhere. There are many reasons for the increase in violent crime in our City, especially the lack of support for our police department and the dwindling numbers of officers.”
Hours after the shooting, Vaughan said, “Since April, the Blind Tiger has experienced a rise in violent crime. The City’s focus is on the safety of their patrons, the general public and neighboring businesses. In my opinion if a business has track record of being unable operate in a safe manner and is negatively impacting the surrounding area they should not be allowed to operate as is.”
To Vaughan’s point, two people were hurt in a shooting in the area of the Blind Tiger on April 13. Four days later, another shooting left two more people injured. The city council temporarily shut down the bar while the safety review board looked into potential violations, and the venue was allowed to reopen on April 26 after getting up to code.
In the two years before the deadly shooting, police say there were 65 calls for service at 1819 Spring Garden Street, where the Blind Tiger is located, from July 31, 2020, to July 31, 2022. Among those calls were six reports of shots fired, three reports of a stab or gunshot wound and three reports of weapons or firearms. Other reports included concerns such as disorderly individuals or crowds, alarms, suspicious activity, larceny, burglary, fraud, trespassing and general calls for law enforcement assistance.
Following the release of the summary and the charges filed against the venue’s owner, Vaughan said, “In my opinion, after reading the affidavits from Greensboro Police and ALE officers, it appears that the Blind Tiger had a complete disregard for public safety and best practices. I am confident that the investigation will be thorough. It is important that people know that their safety is valued and prioritized over profits.”
FOX8 reached out to the attorney for the Blind Tiger for comment, something the news station has done with every new piece of information that has been released. The attorney declined to comment.
On Wednesday, attorney Amiel J. Rossabi offered a brief statement confirming that the legal team is building a case to counter claims made by ALE and Vaughan.
“We continue to gather documents and other information to prove wrong the many false statements made by ALE and the Mayor against the Blind Tiger,” Rossabi said.