SAN JOSE – According to the San Jose Police Department, two separate shootings occurred last weekend in which one man was killed and two women were injured.
With further investigation into those shootings over the weekend, further fatal shootings broke out late Tuesday at Cafe Paradise on Monterey Road. Police said the place had also been the subject of police calls and complaints about illegal keeping open and apparently did so when the recent violence emerged.
The series of shootings highlights what has been an ongoing problem for law enforcement across the area as some companies breach local health codes that prohibit overcrowded indoor gatherings and, in some cases, create environments for criminal activity and violence.
The fatal shots in the early hours of February 20 were related to a basement unit in the heart of Japantown that police, the city and local business owners suspected of essentially functioning as an underground nightclub. It was the subject of recent noise violations complaints and the SJPD vice unit was in the process of launching a formal probe when the shooting took place.
During the same overnight stay across town, there was a shooting at the Agave Sports Bar and Agave Grill on Alma Avenue, which received repeated police calls and complaints for operating a bar despite indoor dining and no gatherings. Members of the local bar industry familiar with the operation have referred to it as a speakeasy, which gave customers detailed instructions on how to avoid detection by the authorities.
The SJPD vice unit was also investigating this deal when two women were wounded early Saturday during an apparent gun battle between a patron and a security guard that resulted in several headstrong shots being fired.
In a statement, prosecutor Nora Frimann declined to indicate her office’s involvement in certain investigations, but admitted: “I can confirm that our office is working with the police to review evidence of problematic activity, contact business owners and owners and determine what legal action may be required to ensure these businesses are no longer a problem for our community. “
During the filming on the 100 block of Jackson Street in Japantown, a basement unit was rented separately from neighboring businesses and apartments in the same building. Local traders, who spoke to this news organization in confidence for security and privacy reasons, said it was not a question of whether illegal activity had taken place in the unit, but rather “how many types of illegal activity” had taken place.
This operation was so secret that the police were not even called on site when the shooting occurred overnight between February 19 and 20. Investigators were alerted when the wounded victim, whose identity is still to be confirmed by the coroner’s office, was rushed to a local hospital around 6 a.m. on February 20 and died of his injuries shortly afterwards.
Working on the notification to the hospital, San Jose police said officers went to Jackson Street and found blood and other evidence of a shooting. Several sources told this news organization that the tenant rented the basement unit for a few weeks at the most.
The agave shooting, which was reported at 1:42 a.m. that morning, came as the deputy unit investigators searched the site after multiple noise complaints and held crowded indoor gatherings. According to the police, the business has triggered “numerous” police calls over the past few months.
Sources familiar with the bar and investigators said nighttime activities on the premises were carefully coordinated and guests were advised not to park on the adjacent property – they were advised to use rideshare – and that when they did heard from the police that the music and lights had been turned off. Essentially, they were waiting for officials lacking an impending emergency or likely reason to enter the house to be unable to force entry.
Several calls from this news organization to Agave, which is not operated in partnership with other companies of the same name in downtown and on Monterey Road, went unanswered, and local staff said there were no managers available to speak to a reporter.
The victim of the shootout at Café Paradise, identified as 32-year-old Cesar Moreno, died Thursday morning. The coffee house, which also acts as a sports event organizer, is a well-known bikini bar in town. A local agent also told a reporter that there were no managers available to answer questions about Tuesday’s shooting that police said took place in the parking lot.
Agave and Café Paradise are also among the most prolific breaches of Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 health ordinance, according to data provided to this news organization in response to a request for public records. Café Paradise has fined $ 42,250 from the county since late September, and Agave has amassed $ 26,750 in fines since October after initially adhering to a county warning.
According to these records, none of the companies paid any of the fines by February 9.
No suspect was publicly identified in any of the shootings, and the motives for the attacks, beyond the reported battle for a weapon in Agave, are still being investigated.
Staff member Maggie Angst contributed to this report.