More Trouble at Scranton Bar

Once again Scranton police were called to a bar in the city’s south side overnight after two people were stabbed.

That makes 25 calls to the bar since the beginning of this year.

Thursday morning the city shut down Finn McCool’s for code violations but it is likely to reopen Friay, but several neighbors and police want to shut down the bar by taking away its liquor license.

Even before the overnight violence, the Lackawanna County prosecutors’ office started the process of trying to take away Finn McCool’s liquor license.

Scranton police are familiar with the address 1608 Cedar Avenue, the address of Finn McCool’s.

Early Thursday morning, a double stabbing inside the bar brought police there for the 25 time in 2011.

“It could be very dangerous, I’ve seen events where people got hurt. So I thought it was pretty dangerous,” said Jerry Cheatham of Scranton. He used to live next to Finn McCool’s. He isn’t surprised at what happened.

Police said Breeze Johnson, 21, a native New Yorker with a long criminal record, stabbed two men inside the bar. He is now behind bars.

Late Thursday afternoon chalk marks encircled what appeared to be the blood spatter, perhaps of a victim trying to get away.

Will the latest violent incident at the bar cause Finn McCool’s to lose its liquor license?

“It’s always a difficult burden because you’re taking something that’s lawfully given to an establishment,” said Assistant District Attorney Gene Talerico.

Newswatch 16 looked at Finn McCool’s own record with the state liquor control board.

The board fined McCool’s three times in the last eight years, once for selling alcohol past closing time, twice for selling alcohol to minors, with fines totalling $4,300.

In April, 2009, a man was shot in the elbow just outside the bar.

Prosecutors said they need more to consider shutting down McCool’s. They need people living near it to complain.

“The public participation for people in close proximity to the bar has not been phenomenal.”

Several neighbors told us they were afraid to complain. The one who would moved away,” Talerico added.

“I had to leave because it was just too much. I have a little kid, and I couldn’t deal with that,” Cheatham added.

When Newswatch 16 called bar owner Michael Verrastro, his wife answered the phone with the words, “We have no comment.”

Finn McCool’s has been temporarily shut down for code violations.

The stabbing victims are expected to recover. Newswatch 16 also learned from one investigator that one of the victims was 20, yet another potential liquor control board violation and fine.

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