TOMBSTONE — The popular Doc Holliday’s Saloon in the heart of Tombstone is facing a temporary shutdown and a $12,000 fine after investigators said four incidents involving guns and violence at the bar violated state liquor laws.
The offenses, according to a complaint by the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, occurred between October 2017 and March 2018, court documents show. Three of the incidents involved guns inside the establishment. In two of the four situations, someone was shot; patrons were also beaten inside the bar in two of the instances, the complaint states.
As a result, the state wants to close Doc Holliday’s Saloon for 14 days and impose a $12,000 fine for civil penalties on owner Noreen Carrafa. Additionally, investigators say the saloon should not reopen after the two-weeks if the fine has not been paid.
Carrafa’s attorney, Joel Borowiec, has appealed the state’s proposed actions and asked a Cochise County superior judge to hear oral arguments on the matter. The state has argued that oral arguments will delay the case, as well as present a burden for Assistant Attorney General Michael Raine because he has to travel to Bisbee from Maricopa County.
Regardless, Cochise County Superior Judge Timothy Dickerson has granted the bar’s request and a hearing for oral arguments has been scheduled for April 10, court officials said Friday.
Both Carrafa and Borowiec declined to comment when reached by the Herald/Review. An email sent to the Attorney General’s Office on Friday was not answered by press time.
Court documents detail each incident and state liquor investigators concluded that Doc Holliday’s management failed to “satisfactorily maintain the capability, qualifications and reliability requirements” of an applicant of a liquor license. The state also charged that the bar’s owners failed to protect the safety of its customers and that employees allowed a “disorderly person to come into or remain on or about the premises.”
State officials also said management at Doc Holliday’s failed to call law enforcement after fights inside the bar left people injured.
The bar’s most recent issues — state liquor officials said the saloon also had seven offenses between 2013 and 2014 that cost management $7,500 in fines — began on Oct. 12, 2017, when James Roberson entered the bar and checked in his firearm with the bartender, documents show.
Roberson was at the bar when he noticed a close friend, Donovan Estrada, arguing with other customers. Roberson got up to intervene and took out a knife. Staff asked Roberson to leave, but not before they returned his gun to his wife. She gave the gun to Roberson, and the customers who had been arguing with Estrada grabbed Roberson’s gun and hit him over the head with it repeatedly, the complaint states. Roberson’s wife was struck in the face during the melee. Then gun discharged and a bullet struck customer Ryan Young in the leg.
On Jan. 3, 2018, a bartender at Doc Holliday’s allowed disc jockey Justin Dewitt to store his gun at the bar while Dewitt worked. State investigators said owner Carrafa had not authorized the bartender to do that.
That same month, on Jan. 29, another bartender allowed patron Larry Stricklin to check his gun at the bar. Stricklin — who also had a gun belt with live ammunition — consumed 10 beers and one shot of peppermint Schnapps, the complaint states.
Stricklin stopped drinking and retrieved his gun and gun belt from the bar, investigators said.
He then went to the bathroom and loaded the firearm, the complaint shows. Stricklin left the bar with friends, and outside, he shot Anthony Estrada in the leg. Stricklin then bolted from the scene, court records show. He was later arrested, investigators said.
The Stricklin skirmish prompted Carrafa to ban guns and knives from the bar, the complaint states.
But fights erupted anyway. On March 30, 2018, state investigators said customers Valerie Vaughn, her husband Johnathan Ball and Anthony Adamaitis, got into an argument inside the saloon. Vaughn sustained injuries to her face. She and Ball left the bar, but Ball returned after a while alone, investigators said.
“The conduct and circumstances above described constitute grounds for discipline,” the state liquor department says in the complaint.
In its appeal, Doc Holliday’s Saloon argues that checking firearms in with the bartender “has been a standard practice in Tombstone for many, many years. This is the first time the Arizona department of Liquor Licenses and Control has charged anyone with a violation regarding these facts.”
Arizona law allows people with concealed-weapons permits to bring their guns into bars and restaurants that haven’t posted signs banning them. Those carrying the weapons aren’t allowed to drink alcohol.
Employees at five bars interviewed by the Herald/Review on Friday — including Doc Holliday’s Saloon — said they do not allow guns inside the premises despite what the law says.