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Lockdown-Violating Underground Gatherings Investigated Over Recent Spate of San Jose Shootings

CBS SF Bay Area logoCBS SF Bay Area 2/26/2021 Syndicated Local – CBS San Francisco

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — A violent week in San Jose led police to uncover underground gatherings that violate state and county public health orders amid the pandemic, investigators confirmed Thursday.

“These shootings occurred indoors where people should not be gathering for alcohol service, food service, etc.,” said Sgt. Christian Camarillo.

On Saturday, police discovered indoor activity at Agave Sports Bar & Grill on Alma Avenue after two women were shot.

The victims, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, were bystanders of a scuffle between a security guard and a patron. The guard had confronted a customer who had brandished a gun inside the establishment and a struggle ensued.

Sgt. Camarillo said they had been investigating the business for a few months after complaints of activity that appeared to violate the county’s restriction on indoor activity.

“I’m not surprised at all,” said one resident who wanted to remain anonymous. “I know there’s been stuff going on over there.”

Another resident, who also didn’t want to release her identity, said the employees at the establishment turn off the lights to appear closed.

The county confirmed that Agave has accumulated fines totaling more than $35,000 along with three complaints for violating the health order.

Hours after the double shooting, one man was shot at what he described to investigators as an “underground club” in Japantown on Jackson Street. The victim later died.

Japantown Business Association president Tamiko Rast said the person who rented the space, which is behind an inconspicuous door with no signage, was only there for two weeks.

“Shortly before this shooting, we received very initial, preliminary information that there may be some activity going on at this location after-hours,” Sgt. Camarillo said. “We were in the process of starting to look at this particular location when this incident occurred.”

The Japantown murder is uncommon for the area.

“It’s a pretty quiet, safe part of town,” said Diego Flores, who frequents the area for its restaurants. “The fact that these things are happening so close to home, just like right underground, is such a crazy thing.”

On Tuesday, a third shooting at Cafe Paradise on Monterey Road became yet another murder investigation inside an alleged illegal operation. The victim from that shooting died from his injuries Thursday.

A KPIX camera captured images of several customers inside Cafe Paradise despite the fatal incident.

Residents who live near Agave expressed their frustration at what appears to be lack of enforcement but Camarillo said that the process is not quick when it comes to holding business owners accountable for public health order violations.

A city spokesperson said the city attorney is currently working with police to figure out whether steps can be taken against problem business and property owners.

“I do understand people’s frustration, they call 911, they expect a police response,” Camarillo said. “Trust us, we’re doing everything we can with the resources that we have. The last thing we want to do is show up to a business and maybe illegally shut them down. That’s why we want to make sure that we do things right and that’s why we work with the city attorney.”

Until then, some feel these business owners are operating as if they’re above the law and the virus.

Agave Sports Bar & Grill and Cafe Paradise could not be reached for comment.

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