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TABC Investigating Bar Shooting

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is investigating what happened Sunday morning outside Shooters Billiards in Central El Paso.

Just after 4 a.m. police were called out to the bar along the 4900 block of Dyer Street to investigate a homicide. According to police, a 33-year old man was shot and killed.

While police are investigating the crime, TABC investigators have to take a look at what occurred from an administration perspective. They need to determine whether anything occurred that violates the liquor license that is given to Shooters Billiards, according to TABC officials.

?We have to see if the establishment itself could have prevented it, could they have taken steps?? said Lt. Sal Moralez, an enforcement officer with the El Paso division of TABC.

Whenever a violent altercation occurs within a bar, or on their property, the owner of the bar is supposed to contact the TABC to make them aware of the situation. In severe circumstances, where police are involved, the El Paso crimes against persons investigators will contact the TABC investigators.

According to Moralez, the TABC investigators have to determine whether the owner, or the workers, of an establishment could have taken steps to prevent any violent incident. In minor cases where the business doesn?t stop a violent action when it could have, they are fined or caused to shut down their business for an amount of days.

A 2009 TABC guide shows that a first non-deadly violation results in a three-to-five-day closure, a second violation costs a business six to 10 days, while a third violation will draw anything from an 18-day closure to a cancellation of the establishment?s liquor license. In lieu of closure, establishments can also pay a $300 fine for each day to keep their doors open.

In more severe cases, where aggravated assault occurs, the fines are much steeper. A first offense costs a business 25-30 days, while a second offense will result in a cancellation of a business? liquor license.

Penalties are not written in stone. Moralez told ABC-7 that in extreme circumstances they can ask for the cancellation of a license. The owner of the establishment can determine whether they?ll follow the recommendation or they can go to a SOHA court where a judge determines what the fine will be.

?There is a process that we have to abide by, and that process has to run its course to protect all of those involved,? said Moralez.

Each incident is viewed on a case-by-case basis, however, Moralez said that in special instances where a cluster of violent events have occurred in a short period of time they can look at whether a bar, or club, falls under what they call a ?place of manner,? or a venue that is allowing preventable violence to occur.

Shooters Billiards had previously been issued an emergency summary suspension which closed their doors for seven days after an October incident where three men were ultimately charged with attempted murder after a man was shot and stabbed at the bar. However, Moralez said they were since cleared of any wrongdoing in that investigation. Now a new investigation will be launched into this latest shooting, however, he said the investigation may not wrap up quickly.

?On the downside these types of investigations can be lengthy,? said Moralez.

Case in point, an investigation by the TABC has not wrapped up in conjunction with the shooting that occurred just down the street from Shooters Billiards at Fussion Night Club in January. Police have said that two Fort Bliss soldiers died as a result of that altercation, but TABC is still investigating whether anything could have been done by the club to prevent it from happening.

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