Shots fired in a Lincoln Road bar in Miami Beach after dispute over seating

 

atorres@MiamiHerald.com

A dispute over seating at a Lincoln Road bar led to a shooting and two arrests, Miami Beach police said Tuesday.

The incident started around 10:30 Monday night when a man in a wheelchair waved his gun at Finnegan's Road irish Pub and fired it into the air, according to officers on the scene at 942 Lincoln Rd. in Miami Beach.

No one was injured.

Ernesto Velazquez, 29, of Miami was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and discharging a firearm in public. Police caught up with him in the 1600 block of Michigan Avenue.

According to witnesses, Velazquez and his brother arrived at the bar and asked for a table. A waitress told police that Velazquez became irate after being directed to a table outside.

"You don't want to serve me?" he screamed, according to the waitress. She said he then grabbed a pistol that he had under a shirt he had on the right side of his wheelchair.

The waitress told police that she suggested the outside table because it is lower and would be more comfortable.

After the ruckus started, the waitress said she ran to the kitchen and notified the manager of the trouble.

Police arrested the shooting suspect and his brother, Miami Beach police spokeswoman Vivian Hernandez said. Employees were still shaken, as yellow crime-scene tape was spread across the restaurant from a jewelry store next door.

"I have survived bombings and shootings in Serbia. I didn't want to die in a bar," manager Bojan Milutinovic, 32, said. "I have been working here for three years and I have never seen anyone pull out a gun. This is a neighborhood bar."

Milutinovic said he was in a back room when he heard a shot and saw the restaurant’s bartenders running. He then walked out into the bar area to try to calm the shooter down.

"I told him he was scaring the girls. He was in his mid-20s. Since he was in a wheelchair when he pointed the gun at me, I ran behind him," Milutinovic said. "I called the police and they were here immediately."

Milutinovic said the evening crowd had gone home about 30 minutes before the shooting.

After the suspect left the bar, he fired his gun outside.

"I had too much to drink and I shot off a a couple of rounds," Velazquez told police after his arrest.

"It's a good thing no one was here; we were able to control the situation, and no one got hurt," Milutinovic said. "His book bag is still on the ground, the bullet hole is in the ceiling, but we are all OK."

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