By: KDKA TV’s Jennifer Borrasso
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A special task force is cracking down on local bars that are breaking the rules during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Nuisance Bar Task Force is made up of officers from Pittsburgh police, state police, the district attorney’s office and the Allegheny County Health Department.
On Friday, the task force raided Bridgez on Arlington Avenue after complaints. KDKA’s Jennifer Borrasso interviewed the commander of the Pittsburgh office of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement Pittsburgh Division, Sergent Dan Mosura.
“We received complaints from neighbors, which we frequently do,” said Mosura. “And that brought our attention to the location. They can’t legally sell liquor there or alcohol there.”
KDKA tried to talk to neighbors, but several were too afraid to talk about what is happening inside and outside of the nightclub near Mt. Oliver. Pittsburgh police have responded to two shootings within a month.
Now four people are awaiting charges after Friday’s raid. Three will be charged for sales of alcohol without a license and illegal gambling. Police also recovered a rifle on the premises and arrested a man in possession of an illegal firearm and narcotics.
“We located alcohol that was available for sale illegally,” said Mosura. “We located illegal gambling machines, some narcotics, two firearms and a ballistic vest.”
While officers and the LCE were still on scene Friday, a Facebook post announced Bridgez’s was closed for the night but would reopen Saturday night and to bring your own alcohol.
Allegheny County’s consumer alerts and closures page showed Bridgez was cited last month for lack of masks, serving alcohol without a meal and not maintaining social distance.
Pittsburgh City Councilman Bruce Kraus said the owners of Bridgez also own The Garage on Brownsville Road in Carrick. On Oct. 9, The Garage received 36 citations and $36,000 in fines for operating without a valid health permit, lack of masks and overcrowding.
“For many weeks now, every effort across multiple governmental and law enforcement agencies is being diligently exercised to ensure an end to any illegal alcohol operation and to restore public safety, peace and tranquility to residents affected by them,” Kraus said.
“Our goal and the task force’s goal and everyone’s goal is to make a safer community for the folks who live around these places,” said Mosura.
In a press release, the task force said complaints about overcapacity, illegal liquor sales and violence at certain places have increased amid the pandemic.
A man named William who said he owned Bridgez told KDKA’s Jennifer Borraso that he apologizes for any inconvenience, including noise. He said the violence has happened across the street.