Less than a day after a Santa Ana police officer shot and wounded a gunman outside a Santa Ana bar, police and city housing inspectors Tuesday raided the bar and shut it down.
Pantera Rosa Inn at 2721 West 17th St., which has a history of fights, drug arrests and other violence, was closed for alleged building code violations. No arrests were made, but city inspectors declared the bar and restaurant unsafe, said George Gragg, community preservation program manager.
Gragg said the kitchen lacked a fire extinguisher next to a stove vent and had "bootlegged" electrical wiring. The kitchen had wall covering that has no fire rating, which all combined to pose a danger, he said. The bar could reopen if the building is brought up to code.
"With a full restaurant with 40 to 50 people, a small grease fire in the kitchen would be disastrous. A lot of people could be trapped," Gragg said. "It's just too dangerous. We're closing it down."
Inspectors Cite Violations
Other violations included broken windows, exposed electrical wiring and blocked emergency-escape routes, inspectors said.
The shutdown was part of the city's second phase of Swat HYPES (High Yield Police Enforcement Services) that began Oct. 2. In the first phase, police served search warrants at 37 houses and one warehouse and arrested more than 100 suspected drug dealers, police said.
Police searched about eight customers at the bar Tuesday, temporarily handcuffing one man as he was questioned about suspected drug sales. The man was later released.
"We never have problems here," bar owner Carlos A. Diaz said. "Only that one time when we served (beer) to a kid. But that was it."
Diaz, who has owned the bar seven years, said his license was suspended for a few days a year ago after state Alcoholic Beverage Control investigators cited him for serving alcohol to a minor. Since then, he said, he has had "no problems" except for Monday night's shooting.
Fled Toward Bar
At 10:15 p.m. Monday, a patrol officer across the street from the bar shot and wounded a man who allegedly had fired at him from the same side of the street but then had fled toward the bar.
"The officer returned fire, striking the man in the right leg and left arm," said police spokesman Lt. Jack Nelson.
Police declined to identify the police officer involved in the shooting. Sgt. Collie Provence, a department media relations officer, said it was "normal department procedure" because the department did not want to cause the officer's family "undue stress."
The suspect was identified as Steven P. Marks, 26, of Garden Grove, police said. Marks was booked in the UCI Medical Center jail ward on suspicion of attempted murder.
Marks is believed to have crawled to the bar after he was shot and may have tried to deposit his gun inside, police said. Police found the gun, but it was not clear where.
Prostitutes at Work
Police also said they believe prostitutes have been using the bar to meet customers, then taking them to a vacant house across the street. Diaz denied that prostitutes operate at his business. "We hardly ever get any women in here. But when they do come in and they start going from male customer to male customer, they're asked to leave."
On Tuesday, three housing inspectors were accompanied by six police officers as part of the crackdown. As the Swat HYPES program moves through the city, one sergeant who directed the raid said, business seems to pick up at other neighborhood cantinas.
"The type of clientele attracted to this place only adds to the problem," Sgt. Clay Cotton said. "The general atmosphere seems to promote violence. There are a lot of drug dealings and incidents involving guns."
Rick Coburn, who lives with his family a few doors from the Pantera Rosa, said: "It's just a shabby situation. My wife is afraid of walking to the grocery store because she gets whistles and catcalls by men thinking she's a prostitute.
"And the problem has been here since I moved in nearly eight years ago."
Coburn said he has circulated petitions among neighbors complaining about the bar. But until Tuesday, they were to no avail, he said.
When told the city had temporarily closed the bar, Coburn's wife said, "Thank God."