Melony Wagner loves it when police officers are visible as the late-night crowd descends on Charles Village Pub & Patio. It's the bar where she has worked for years, the bar where she met her husband and the bar that she eventually purchased with him.
Wagner encourages officers to sit at the door with the pub's bouncers, or at the very least, to park their cruisers on the street so patrons are aware police are just outside.
But early Sunday morning, the added patrol officers assigned to Towson's commercial core around closing time helped curtail a violent incident that brewed in front of the West Pennsylvania Avenue bar.
Baltimore County Police officers in downtown Towson were able to quickly identify the man who allegedly fired five shots into a crowd after a fight on Dec. 16, according to court documents released Monday, Dec. 17.
Charging documents indicate that the altercation, which began in front of Charles Village Pub & Patio in Towson, spilled around the block to West Chesapeake Avenue but was almost immediately brought under control by law enforcement.
The alleged shooter, Francis Minsung Kang, 26, had driven barely a block in his pickup truck when police stopped him.
Cpl. Cathy Batton, a spokeswoman for Baltimore County Police, said Kang, of the unit block of Brook Farm Court in Cockeysville, was leaving the pub at closing time when two women asked if they could get him a cab. Police said Kang yelled at the women and then left and got behind the wheel of his white Dodge Dakota pickup truck.
As he drove down Pennsylvania Avenue past the two women Kang threw an open Gatorade bottle at them, and a group of bystanders chased him around the corner. Police said Kang exited his vehicle in the unit block of West Chesapeake Avenue to confront them.
According to the charging documents, Kang was punched in the face, at which point he pulled a Glock from his waistband and opened fire sending five bullets in the direction of the bystanders.
Kang later told police the he was only firing warning shots, according to the documents, which also stated that one man suffered a "superficial" bullet wound on his hand. Bullets also struck two vehicles parked nearby, the documents state.
Officers on patrol in Towson heard and responded to the gunshots, and were told by onlookers that the white truck driving their way was involved. Officers blocked the road and stopped the vehicle, the documents state.
Kang attempted to get out of the vehicle, but officers ordered his hands up and saw he was wearing an empty holster on his hip.
Police found a black 9mm semiautomatic Glock handgun between the center console and passenger seat of the vehicle, and a magazine of ammunition was found next to the driver's seat, according to the documents.
Kang was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault and use of a handgun in the commission of a felony, the documents state.
Two other men who were in the pickup truck, Mohammad Jamal Ansari and William Joseph Parry, were also detained.
Later that night, Kang "admitted to having his Glock handgun in his holster during the time of the altercation," the charging documents state.
As of Monday night, Kang remained at Baltimore County Detention Center without bail.
Charles Village Pub manager Jason Jankiewicz said Monday morning that there were "a lot of Christmas parties" on Saturday night, but it was otherwise a typical Saturday at the Towson bar.
Jankiewicz said 10 security personnel were on duty at the pub, and nothing was out of the ordinary until the shots were fired. He didn't know where the shots came from at first, but 30 seconds later, the police arrived and "it was just over with," he said.
Seeing how efficiently police handled the situation, both Jankiewicz and co-owner Wagner hope the police continue be a presence to deter crime or to stop it before a situation escalates.
"It's a deterrent, and it helps a lot, just having a presence there, not only for the people who are going out to see, but also the people of Towson, knowing that it's not tolerated," Jankiewicz said.
County Councilman David Marks, who represents the 5th District including Towson, acknowledged that a police presence is a deterrent, but said additional police in Towson will be necessary as the county seat continues to grow.
Nancy Hafford, executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, said the police force is "really good" but is dealing with more people than ever in downtown Towson.
"I think the majority of people realize that a majority of our incidents happen early in the morning after the bars close, and that the streets of Towson during the day are a safe place to be," Hafford said.
"Not that it's not safe late at night, but with the drinking and testosterone, that can lend to not good things happening. We have to beef up visible security in our community at all times."