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Bar owner asks for more policing Downtown after prosecutors charge man with threatening business with gun


The man accused of brandishing a rifle outside Eastside Tavern on Saturday night has now been charged with three felonies, including making a terroristic threat.

Gamaliel Martinez, 34, of Fresno, California, has also been charged with armed criminal action and illegal use of a weapon.

However, everyone at the bar was able to stay safe thanks to the action of the doorman on duty.

According to a probable cause statement, an Eastside Tavern employee denied Martinez entry to the bar Saturday night because he was too drunk. Martinez then began calling the employee names and left the area.

The employee told police about 20 minutes later that Martinez began walking back toward the bar with a rifle in his hands, the statement says. The employee then locked the door to the bar and told everyone inside to get down.

The statement goes on to say that Martinez set the rifle on the ground by the bar's front door and walked away. The employee then unlocked the door, secured the gun and called 911.

ABC 17 News reached out to Eastside Tavern to learn about what sort of training this doorman had to prepare for this situation, but the owner said the doorman did not want to talk about it.

Tim McDonald, co-owner of Code 3 Security, said from what he's heard, the doorman did what he would expect a trained security guard to do.

"I would expect them to respond quickly to that threat, to work to secure the scene and the people inside and try to mitigate that threat by locking the door, which sounds like what he did," McDonald said.

The City of Columbia does require a license for security officers employed with a service, such as Code 3 Security, but it doesn't apply to people hired by individual businesses like bars and restaurants, meaning there's no license required to be a bouncer.

A manager at Shiloh Bar and Grill told ABC 17 News they hire and train bouncers themselves. Bouncers are trained to walk unruly customers out of the restaurant and close their tab. If it gets violent, they call police.

McDonald said Code 3 Security previously had contracts with Downtown Columbia businesses, but that stopped about two or three years ago, largely due to liability reasons. Now, they do security work for The Blue Note a few times a year.

"Bars tend to be fairly volatile and have a high incidence of violence, so we try to avoid those kinds of situations," McDonald said.

Eastside Tavern owner Sal Nuccio said he thinks the city needs to double its police force and have officers stationed at hot spots Downtown between 6 p.m.-2 a.m.

"With beat cops on foot patrolling the area, this incident would have never happened and perpetrators of crimes like vandalism and violence would be way less likely to act out these crimes," Nuccio said.

McDonald said bar patrons should stay alert while they're out and avoid drinking too much in public. He said this makes it difficult to make choices and easier to get involved in conflict. He said if people pay attention, they can usually spot conflict 10-15 minutes in advance.

"You can see the people that are going to be causing problems," McDonald said. "I think folks just need to learn to watch for those things, and when they feel like something maybe bad is going to happen, it's a good time to leave the scene."

The probable cause statement for Saturday's event goes on to say that when police arrived a little before 11 p.m. they found the rifle stored in the backroom of the bar with a 38-round magazine ready to fire. The weapon was identified as a black, semi-automatic short-stock Zastava SKS.

Police then found Martinez lying outside about half a block away from the bar, where he began kicking at officers. He was arrested at the scene.

Martinez remained in jail without bond Tuesday. A court hearing was set for Tuesday afternoon.

Article Topic Follows: Crime

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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