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Spate of shootings draw attention to underground clubs, speakeasies in San Jose

Spate of shootings draw attention to underground clubs, speakeasies in San Jose
Photo by David von Diemar on Unsplash
By Laila Weir - Published on February 26, 2021.

A spate of shootings in San Jose has shined a spotlight on underground clubs and speakeasies allegedly taking place at area businesses, including one that recently sold an $18 million lottery ticket.

“These shootings occurred indoors where people should not be gathering for alcohol service, food service, etc.,” Sgt. Christian Camarillo told KPIX.

On Feb. 20, a shooting victim showed up at an area hospital, which alerted authorities. The man died, but not before telling investigators that he’d been shot at an “underground club,” according to KPIX.

That underground club turned out to be in a basement unit on the 100 block of Jackson Street in Japantown. The Mercury News reports that authorities and local business owners already suspected the address of hosting illegal activity.

The San Jose Police Department had already been in the process of launching an investigation. “Shortly before this shooting, we received very initial, preliminary information that there may be some activity going on at this location after-hours,” Sgt. Camarillo told KPIX. “We were in the process of starting to look at this particular location when this incident occurred.”

The president of the Japantown Business Association told KPIX the tenant who rented the space had been there for just two weeks.

The same night, there had been a double shooting at the Agave Sports Bar & Grill on Alma Avenue, which the paper says the police were also investigating for hosting illegal gatherings. Two women were apparently wounded by stray bullets during a struggle over a gun between a customer and a security guard.

The Mercury News reports that the bar took measures to keep the gatherings secret, telling customers not to park in the nearby lot and turning off the music and lights went police showed up.

Then on Tuesday, there was a shooting at Cafe Paradise on Monterey Highway. (This is the same Cafe Paradise that Hoodline reported sold a winning $18 million SuperLotto ticket in December.) The victim from that shooting, identified by the paper as 32-year-old Cesar Moreno, died from his injuries Thursday morning.

The Mercury News reports that Agave and Café Paradise have been among the most frequent violators of the county’s lockdown regulations, with the county having fined Café Paradise $42,250 and Agave $26,750.