Donora bar shooting triggers public nuisance case

July 16, 2013
The Washington County district attorney’s office may petition the court to close Ray’s Place in Donora, where two men were injured in a shooting July 5. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

DONORA – A July 5 shooting that injured two tavern patrons in Donora has triggered an investigation into closing the business under the state public nuisance bar program.

Donora Mayor John Lignelli and Washington County District Attorney Eugene Vittone confirmed they are in discussions about petitioning the court to close Ray’s Place, the scene of the shooting and many other police calls.

“I have the list of calls from 911 and it’s longer than your arm,” Lignelli said Tuesday.

Police accused Frank Ellis “Kimo” Tartt, 32, of Donora of using a handgun to fire six shots from the sidewalk into the bar at 864 Meldon Ave., injuring his cousin and a Monessen man. Tartt remains at large, wanted on two counts of attempted homicide and related charges.

A search of the Observer-Reporter archives back to April 2011 revealed a heroin arrest there, two assault reports and a charge being filed against the bar owner alleging it was serving minors.

Lignelli said residents of a nearby high-rise have made comments to the borough pleading for the bar to be closed.

“They have said, ‘I’m even afraid to drive past the place.’”

The state Liquor Control Board met recently with borough police about the bar, which closed for a few days after the shooting, but since has reopened, Lignelli said.

Lignelli said he led prior efforts to use the nuisance program to close two other local bars, an American Legion and Bummy’s on McKean Avenue.

He said Vittone asked him to gather information on Ray’s Place, including police reports, before petitioning Washington County Court for an order issuing a closure notice.

“We’re working on it. It’s going to be closed,” he said

The bar owner, Ray Shutterly, could not be reached for comment.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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