Authorities Will Discuss Plan To Close Down Troubled Bar
PLYMOUTH — Borough police said they plan to look into shuttering Robby Nick’s Sports Bar in the aftermath of Thursday’s deadly shooting, the second at the location in little more than a year.
The shooting that left 33-year-old Tierees Owens dead on the sidewalk early Thursday took place before prosecutors have had a chance to close the book on the July 2017 slaying of Anthony J. Wisneski, 34, of Nanticoke, who was gunned down at the same location.
Noting the frequent dispatches to the bar and the murders, police say the trend is concerning.
Plymouth police Chief Anthony Gorey said he plans to contact the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office to see whether closing the bar down is a possibility.
“If you have two homicides in a little over a year, that’s something that has to be addressed,” Gorey said. “It’s concerning enough to at least try to shut it down, try to go to the DA and see what they can do.”
Neighbors said police are routinely seen at the bar, which is known for loud music and frequent fights.
“It doesn’t matter what night it is,” said a neighbor who asked not to be identified for her family’s safety. “Like last night was a Wednesday. It was probably the quietest night too, so far. And then I heard gunshots.”
She said she was making plans Thursday to get a storage unit and move away as soon as possible.
“Now I’m just moving in with somebody, because I have to get out of here,” she said.
When Wisneski was killed outside the bar at 177 E. Main St. after trying to intervene in a dispute, the establishment was known as RisNick’s Bar. But although the bar’s name has changed, state liquor license records show the owner remains the same: Robert Nicoletti Jr.
Since Nicoletti opened the establishment under a new name, the bar has had only two liquor license violations — for allowing smoking and failing to post signs as required by the Clean Indoor Air Act, records show.
But Nicoletti, 51, is the former owner of Locals 88 on Poplar Street in Wilkes-Barre, a problem bar in Wilkes-Barre that was shut down following several shootings.
Following a deadly shooting at Locals 88 in March 2013, neighbors clamored for authorities to shutter the bar. At the time, authorities said police were dispatched to the bar 22 times — including for two shootings, one fatal — in Nicoletti’s first year of ownership.
Locals 88, while under different ownership, was ultimately shuttered by city officials in February 2016 following another shooting that injured two people.
Nicoletti did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.
But the establishment at the corner of East Main Street and Washington Avenue in Plymouth has a long history of trouble that began even before Nicoletti took over as proprietor.
The bar is in a building that once housed the Bull Run Tavern, the site of a September 2008 shooting that left Kirk Lipscomb dead and David Green wounded.
Green identified Jeremy Kendricks, 36, of Wilkes-Barre, as the triggerman, and Kendricks was later convicted of third-degree murder and sentenced to serve between 20 and 40 years in state prison.
In November 2009, then-Luzerne County District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll obtained a court order to shutter the bar as a nuisance to the community. Authorities then moved quickly to padlock the doors.
Gorey said that while he didn’t have statistics on calls for service to the establishment, the rate has not been as bad as when it was the Bull Run Tavern. But he said he still found the trend “most definitely” concerning.
“I am aware that we do go down there often,” Gorey said. “We really don’t have many problems at any other establishments. Obviously at a bar you’re likely to have arguments and disagreements, loud music. But we really don’t have many problems with our taverns or bars, so that one does stick out.”
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