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Councilwoman: ABC agents investigating Richmond cigar bar after recent complaints

Posted at 11:39 PM, Oct 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-31 23:42:52-04

RICHMOND, Va., -- A cigar bar situated in Richmond's Fan District is being investigated by Virginia ABC special agents after multiple recent complaints, according to Councilwoman Kim Gray. The investigation follows the assault of a man that was captured on camera near the bar over the weekend.

Neighbors along West Grace Street were questioned by Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control special agents about the Cornerstone Cigar Bar Wednesday afternoon. The bar is located at West Broad and North Allison Streets.

Xantea Bowe said two agents knocked on her door.

"Two officers asked me some questions about Cornerstone, about that area, what I witnessed," Bowe explained. "I told them what I know about the fights and stuff."

An employee at Nirvana Hair Studio located on West Broad Street neighboring the bar said ABC agents also asked about dealings surrounding the establishment as well.

Bowe said she's witnessed unruly crowds and experienced property damage ever since the cigar bar opened in January.

"People rowdy in the street and fights breaking out. I've caught several people in my backyard going through things the same time as Cornerstone opened up," the mother said.

Gray said she's received emails and calls complaining about an increase in crime and disorder tied to the bar for months.

"If you’re going to create a nuisance in the community I'm coming for you," Gray stated.

CBS 6 reached out multiple times to owners of Cornerstone Cigar Bar, but has not received a response.

Gray said she left a voicemail for the bar owner, but hasn't heard back.

"I'm not going to say it’s completely Cornerstone, but it’s just getting a little ridiculous how it’s changed [since they moved in]," Bowe explained.

Attack caught on camera

The ABC investigation comes on the heels of a viral video that showed two suspects pull a man out of his van, assault him and rob him in the middle of the street.

Police said the incident occurred in the Fan early Sunday morning, October 28.

Officers responded to the 2000 block of West Grace Street for the report of an assault at approximately 2:17 a.m.

Video of the incident sparked outrage among neighbors and Richmond City Councilperson Kim Gray.

"This is a very serious offense," Gray said. "Someone trying to get through a traffic jam that was created by these people leaving a nightclub and was yanked from his vehicle and beaten to the ground."

Video of the incident showed a group of people in the street, blocking traffic, and playing loud music at the intersection of West Grace and Allison Streets.

“The victim attempted to drive through the intersection when two males approached the vehicle. One of the suspects took the victim’s cell phone. When the victim attempted to exit the vehicle to retrieve his phone another suspect struck the victim multiple times,” said a Richmond Police spokesperson.

Video shows the men approach the van, where they appeared to punch the driver. When they pulled him out of his van, the assault continued.

"Anyone who is yanked from their car and beaten... it should be an outrage to everyone," said Gray. "We need to know we're safe in our communities -- regardless of where we are."

The victim was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The suspects fled the scene both on foot and in a bright orange Ford Mustang sedan.

The two suspects are described as black males approximately 25-35 years of age.

The first suspect was last seen wearing a white North Face sweatshirt, jeans, white shoes and has a goatee. The second suspect was last seen wearing an orange collared shirt with jeans and Timberland boots.

Police have classified the crime as a simple assault, however, Gray hoped those charges would be upgraded once more details are learned and witnesses come forward to identify those involved.

However, it's not certain that the suspects left Cornerstone Cigar Bar prior to the attack.

Gray said she planned to meet with the victim on Thursday.

Detectives ask anyone with any information about the identity of these suspects to call Third Precinct Detective A. Davila at (804) 646-1069 or Crime Stoppers at 780-1000. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used. All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.