Police want to shut down bar in Providence’s Federal Hill after nearby killing
PROVIDENCE — Stephen Cabral nearly got away.
In the last minutes of his life, the 28-year-old North Providence man fled through the heart of Federal Hill as the busy bars and nightclubs closed, and he jumped a fence into the Walgreens parking lot on Atwells Avenue.
The store’s surveillance video shows him appearing to yell back at his pursuers. Then, a swarm of men were upon him, beating and slashing him as he tried to fend them off.
The Providence police say that witnesses and surveillance video show that Cabral and the men suspected of killing him had all been inside the nightclub Seven, at 114 Spruce St.
Now, the police and Cabral’s family want the nightclub — located in a neighborhood that attracts tourists from all around the world — shut down permanently.
The Board of Licenses had closed the nightclub in an emergency hearing hours after the murder June 30 and voted unanimously Wednesday to extend the closure while the show-cause hearing continues next week.
“We have no faith this establishment will be run in a responsible manner,” associate city solicitor Mario Martone told the board.
Whether the city can prove the fatal altercation began in the nightspot remains to be seen.
The board is waiting to see surveillance video from inside the nightclub. Detective Theodore Michael testified that he obtained a search warrant for Cox Communications to access the video because the owner told police that he didn’t know the password for the system.
The club’s lawyer, Nicholas Hemond, tried unsuccessfully to persuade the board to allow Seven to reopen while the hearing is pending.
He said the police didn’t have the evidence to prove the club was at fault, and he was considering appealing the temporary closure to the Department of Business Regulation, where, he said, he has never lost an appeal.
Bob Terino, a third-generation Federal Hill businessman, was dismissive of Hemond’s assertions.
“What I just heard is a fairy tale,” Terino said outside the hearing room. “This particular location has been cited a number of times, and attorney Hemond uses the same thing: ‘How do you know they came from this establishment?’ ”
Terino said he knows because he lives there. He showed a Globe reporter the video taken from his building that houses the Walgreens.
Five years ago, Terino and other Federal Hill business owners fought against another bar across the street where a man was beaten to death; it was shut down.
Only open less than a year, Seven has drawn the wrong kind of attention.
Complaints about illegal bottle service, fights, and a double shooting outside in May led to temporary closures, according to city records, although the club was cleared in the shooting when authorities determined there was no connection.
Seven also lost its entertainment license for the month of June. However, officer David Tejada testified Wednesday that he heard loud music booming from the nightclub hours before the murder.
Tejada was one of the first officers on the scene that night, responding to emergency calls for a rescue. He testified about seeing Cabral laying on his back, as a bystander bent over him and gave chest compressions.
As he voted Wednesday to keep the club closed, license board member Peter Mancini remarked: “I specifically remember someone saying if you don’t do something, someone is going to get killed here.”
Some of Cabral’s family attending the hearing gasped at his words.
They were in the audience holding photos of Cabral within view of board members. Club owner Anthony Luisi, wearing a black T-shirt and torn cut-off jeans, muttered as he left the room and avoided their eyes.
Cabral’s loved ones had been together on Monday and Tuesday, sitting silently in District Court as four suspects were arraigned on charges of murder and conspiracy.
Daniel Garcia, 29, and Daquan Stevens, 27, both of Providence, and brothers Jaquontee Reels-Felder, 24, and Sequoya Reels-Felder, 27, both of Ledyard, Conn., remain held without bail. Police are seeking four other men.
Outside the courthouse Tuesday, Jennifer Andrade, 29, one of Cabral’s sisters, said that the club owner reached out to her and other relatives over Facebook to offer his condolences. She said Luisi wrote that her brother was inside the nightclub and bought drinks for other customers and that he was “a good kid.”
Andrade said when she also saw Luisi complaining on social media about all the money he was losing with the closure, she blocked him on Facebook.
“He knows damn well his club should not have been open,”Andrade said. “I know for a fact that if that club was closed, my brother would still be here.”