NEWINGTON – A man was wounded by gunfire in the parking lot of Plaza Azteca on the Berlin Turnpike early Tuesday.
The shooting is the second time in three months that someone was injured outside the business.
The victim was treated at Waterbury Hospital for a non-life-threatening wound, according to Newington police.
Police responded to the scene at about 1 a.m. when a caller reported there was a brawl in the parking lot and a shot was fired.
A large number of vehicles were leaving the area, but no victims were found when officers arrived, police said in a press release.
In April, four people were injured outside the restaurant. Two people were stabbed after a brawl of about 10 people broke out in the restaurant’s parking lot around 2 a.m.. Police have not released any new information from that incident.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim who was shot and we are thankful it resulted in a non-life-threatening injury,” said attorney John Kennelly, of Hartford, who represents the family-owned and operated restaurant chain.
Following this latest violent incident, Kennelly said the restaurant owner has spoken with Newington police and will be increasing the number of surveillance cameras on the premises, hiring private security for any promoted events and will remove people who hang out in the lot after the business has closed.
The restaurant has been hosting musical entertainment on Monday nights, but the attorney told The Herald the owners will re-evaluate the Monday night event and other events going forward to ensure the safety of its patrons.
“Everything is being looked at,” Kennelly said. “This is a safe, quality restaurant that people can go to.”
The business does not have any open complaints with the Department of Consumer Protection, but did have a complaint filed against it in 2017 for unpaid unemployment taxes, according to department spokesperson Lora Rae Anderson. The restaurant was brought into compliance and paid what was owed.
While the department has jurisdiction over the inside of the permitted premises, and not necessarily the parking lot, “in instances like these we do sometimes receive a police referral from local law enforcement,” Anderson said Tuesday early afternoon. “We have not received a referral at this time, but if we do, we will review it and take any necessary action.”
Frank Aieta, town Planning and Zoning Commission chairman, said any town action against the business would come from law enforcement or the council as the business is in good standing with all zoning regulations. The restaurant has added private security, an off-duty police officer and a fire department representative for special events, like its Cinco de Mayo celebration, Aieta said.
Mayor Roy Zartarian said given the track record of the recent events, the council leadership will be discussing before its next council meeting which action it could take against the restaurant. Whatever action that may be, may depend on what the Department of Consumer Protection wants to do, Zartarian said but something should be done to “clean up” the clientele there.
Kennelly said the restaurant welcomes any inquiry into its business practices.
The people involved are a few bad apples and “knuckleheads,” he said.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or email@example.com.