City Shuts Down Bar for 30 Days After Last Year's Shooting

By Benjamin Woodard on December 4, 2012 7:18pm 

ROGERS PARK — The owner of Gallagher's, a neighborhood bar closed after a bouncer allegedly shot a patron in the knee for not paying a tab, said he fully plans to reopen when the city suspension ends later this month.

Ignacio Estrada, the bar's owner since 2002, said he intended to reopen the bar at 1770 W. Greenleaf Ave. on Dec. 21. He refused to comment otherwise on the suspension.

The bar was closed last month after Estrada had lost his appeal over the summer of the 30-day suspension following the incident that took place on March 19, 2011. 

The bouncer, Danielito Valentin, has since been fired from the bar and was charged with aggravated battery and impersonating a police officer, according to the Cook County States Attorney's Office.

Nearby businesses and residents say they have long dealt with lewd activity outside the bar, including prostitution, drug use and other violence.

For a group of artists and DJs who live next door in a storefront apartment, the most memorable experience was seeing a "belt fight" spill out onto Greenleaf Avenue after drunk patrons got too rowdy inside the bar, said Joe Bokie, who's lived there for two years.

"People just started taking off their belts," Bokie said. "At least 10 people had their belts off, stomping each other on the ground."

The 34-year-old cook said the police broke up the fight 15 minutes later, adding that "the volume of violence they can produce from this little bar is amazing."

Bokie and one of his roommates said they were hoping the bar, that plays music and serves booze until the early morning, wouldn't reopen.

Other nearby shop owners, like architect Fred Frank whose office is next door, also said he didn't want the bar to reopen because of the trash left behind by people leaving the bar and other purported criminal activity.

Frank said he's found "left over condoms" in the private alleyway behind his office and the bar.

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