Vibe Lounge closed for at least two weeks

Vibe Lounge closed for at least two weeks

PAWTUCKET – Vibe Lounge on Broad Street is now closed until at least the date of a planned city hearing on May 11 after a shooting and other incidents there.

The City Council’s Board of License Commissioners held a rare weekend emergency hearing last Saturday, April 24, to schedule formal action on the matter for Tuesday, April 27, and the board ended up continuing the matter for two weeks until May 11 so an attorney for the owners can prepare a defense.

Responding to concerns from commissioners, attorney Peter Petrarca assured the council that no one will be in the building during the two weeks under a voluntary closure.

“If they open, I will not be the attorney of record,” he said.

An April 23 shooting was the fifth incident at the club since February. Other incidents occurred on April 5, 11, and 18.

Police Chief Tina Goncalves, the city’s public safety director, last week declared Vibe Lounge a public nuisance after another major incident there, including a shooting of a patron on April 23 and an uncontrollable crowd hindering response efforts.

During last Saturday’s session, Councilor Mark Wildenhain said any attempt to open the restaurant in any capacity prior to May 11 will make things much worse for the owners when they do come before the board.

The declaration came as a response to the latest incident requiring Pawtucket police to respond to Vibe Lounge for a victim who was shot five times and was transported to a hospital for treatment. The case is under investigation by the Major Crime Unit. The property was immediately deemed “a menace to the public health, welfare, or safety” through the numerous violations of COVID-19 regulations in addition to the recent violent activities.

“The city and Police Department always prioritize working with our local businesses to help them succeed in a safe environment,” said Goncalves. “In this particular case, the business is directly affecting the surrounding neighborhood, and placing the public safety of our community in jeopardy.”

Issues at Vibe Lounge are part of a larger problem in the downtown of clubs flaunting Pawtucket’s required closing times and the state’s COVID-19 restrictions. Officials say they need to send a message now that this type of activity is not acceptable in Pawtucket.

“The Pawtucket Police Department strongly believes that to allow the business to remain open is a threat to public safety,” said Capt. David Holden in a letter to the council.

On April 23, at 12:51 a.m., police received several 911 calls for shots fired inside of Vibe Lounge at 23 Broad St. Officer Kinney was the first on scene and approached a member of Vibe’s security staff at the front door of the bar. Kinney informed the security guard of the nature of the call and that she would be going inside to check for a gunshot victim.

“The security guard was extremely hesitant to let Officer Kinney in the building and told her that she didn’t need to go inside,” said Holden. Sgt. Medeiros and Officer Patrie arrived on scene and were met with the same resistance from the security guard; however, they made entry and began to make their way through the crowd of approximately 200 patrons still inside the bar. Due to the noise created by the music and their inability to move through such a densely populated space, Sgt. Medeiros ordered the security guard to shut off the music and start clearing the club of people.

As Kinney and Patrie were moving through the crowd toward the rear of the establishment, they were notified that there was a gunshot victim outside the North Union Street door of the building. Medeiros reported that as he moved toward the victim he saw several officers attempting to gain control of a small crowd that were yelling and screaming standing over the victim. Officers were attempting to control the crowd while also trying to provide life saving measures to the shooting victim.

Medeiros requested every available Pawtucket police officer, a total of 13 officers, to Vibe Lounge to help with crowd control. While attempting to render aid to victim, more and more people started exiting Vibe Lounge. The belligerent group began to taunt, yell, and scream at the officers and refused to follow lawful commands to leave the area, said Holden. The large number of people spilling onto the street from Vibe Lounge, the number of vehicles attempting to leave the area, and the hostile crowd gathering around the crime scene were overwhelming Pawtucket Police resources and preventing rescue and fire personnel from entering the scene to render aid. Medeiros was therefore forced to request mutual aid from surrounding communities to assist.

With the additional resources, the Pawtucket police were able to secure the crime scene. The victim was transported to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment of five gunshot wounds to his upper body and legs. At approximately 1:26 a.m., the crowd was finally cleared out along with all surrounding parking lots and streets. Two people, one a resident of Boston and the other from Lowell, Mass., were taken into custody for disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice.

The owners of Vibe Lounge, Victor and Leslie Silva, were both on scene during the incident. Detectives confirmed the shooting victim was a patron at Vibe.

“Additionally, when reviewing the video surveillance of the interior of Vibe Lounge, I observed numerous COVID-19 violations to include the use of hookah, non-compliance with the mask mandate, and dancing,” said Holden.

The Breeze reported in January 2018 that Silva, a graduate of Shea High School, was planning to open Vibe Lounge in the McDevitt Building at 25 Broad St.