AP NEWS

Police Respond To 203 Calls At The Castle After-hours Club Since 2016

May 14, 2019

Scranton police responded to two dozen calls, ranging from assaults to nuisance complaints, at the Castle after-hours club since January, and 203 since 2016, the police chief said Tuesday. Sometimes, numerous officers were dispatched to calls, which Police Chief Carl Graziano said indicates there were serious incidents, like fights. City council on Monday called on the district attorney’s office to look into shuttering the club, at 1826 N. Main Ave., in light of a nearby shooting shortly after 5 a.m. Sunday, when it closed for the night. It ended with 20-year-old Parker Palermo dead and two others wounded — one grievously. The two dozen calls this year are the total listed in the department’s reporting system for the North Scranton club’s address. Some, Graziano said, may be just “traffic stops and/or parking complaints.” Grazaino said the calls this year typically came in after midnight on the weekends. Detectives continue to investigate Sunday’s shooting “around the clock,” Graziano said. Authorities shared few details. The two wounded men have not been identified. One was shot in the shoulder and is in stable condition. The other was shot in the face and remains critical. He has not regained consciousness yet, so detectives have not been able to interview him. The man shot in the shoulder has not cooperated, Graziano said. The person who shot Palermo has not been named but police identified him as a someone who provides or recommends security services to various bars and clubs. Investigators interviewed him for hours, Graziano said. He was legally armed and the investigation seems to center on determining whether or not the shooting was justified. Evidence collected at the scene of the shooting suggests more than one gunman opened fire. Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell, whose office could act to close the establishment as a nuisance, said Tuesday he could not comment until the investigation is complete. City Councilman Bill Gaughan said Powell told him he would entertain council’s request. City council’s call to close it comes three months after Powell’s office sought a court order to shut down Rocky’s Lounge on Jefferson Avenue. Prosecutors reviewed years of police responses to the bar and cited their serious nature. Rocky’s agreed to close for six months and reopen with more security. Powell said there is a crucial difference between Rocky’s and the Castle — the former has a liquor license and the latter doesn’t. People bring their own booze to the Castle. That allows them to stay open past the state’s 2 a.m. closing time. It also allows them to operate without the state Liquor Control Board’s oversight, so prosecutors seeking to shut it down as a nuisance do not have a history of LCB violations to help back up their case. The Castle’s owner, Nasser Mohammadzad, said the establishment is not at fault in the shooting, particularly as it did not happen at the club. Patrick Hinton, director of the city’s Department of Licensing, Inspection and Permits Department, said the city last tangled with the Castle in 2015. Jim Lyons, owner of the nearby Dee Jays Hoagies, complained to the city. At 5 a.m., Feb. 15, 2015, Lyons cleaned snow from his walk as the crowd from a Valentine’s Day party “mobbed” out. Gunshots followed. “One guy called the other guy (a racial slur) and out comes the gun,” Lyons wrote into the margins of the reply letter the city sent him. “It was like a movie.” Hinton provided the Times-Tribune with a copy of the letter. Attempts to reach Lyons were unsuccessful Tuesday. Lyons also scribbled at the top of the letter: “Everyone passing the buck. Are you waiting for someone to be killed?” Hinton said the city inspected the building but could not produce a violation. “From what I can remember I don’t think we saw anything we could get him on,” Hinton said. On the night of this weekend’s shooting, a local disc jockey who has played more than a decade of gigs at the Castle celebrated his 46th birthday by DJing a party there. David Cole, who is known by his stage name DJ KillaKwest, said that a dispute between a few women occurred earlier in the evening, but otherwise no open fighting took place in the club. Cole said he saw Palermo at the club sometime Saturday night, toward the beginning of the night. Palermo was by himself. They had known each other for about a year. Palermo was a “cool kid” who never caused “drama” when he visited the club, Cole said. He wished Cole a happy birthday. Palermo left and Cole did not see him return. Graziano said that the video surveillance reviewed by police do not have him in the club anywhere near the time of the shooting. As the early morning wore on, the club got “rowdy” and crowded, Cole said. Management asked him to “shut it down early.” It was nearly 5 a.m. Cole said he left before the shots rang out. Contact the writer: jkohut@timesshamrock.com, 570-348-9144; @jkohutTT on Twitter