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Licenses for 2 businesses suspended after fatal Denver shooting involving security guard

Lempira restaurant and bar has a history of hiring unlicensed security guards, records show. One of them was involved in a fatal shooting over the weekend, DPD said.

DENVER — The licenses of two Denver businesses were suspended after a fatal shooting over the weekend that began when security guards got into a fight with patrons at a bar, the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses said.

Executive Director Molly Duplechian issued licensing suspensions Tuesday for two businesses -- J&M Security LLC and Restaurante Lempira.

The shooting happened just after 12:30 a.m. outside Lempira restaurant and bar at 1452 Unita St. The suspect, 23-year-old Dante Pacheco-Rodriguez, is being held on one count of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder. He worked for J&M Security LLC and was among four people hired by Lempire to work at the bar that night.

RELATED: Suspect arrested in shooting outside Denver bar

According to the Denver Police Department, a fight spilled out of the bar. One group was associated with a red pickup truck parked across the street. Court documents said a group of five people took cover behind a truck before Pacheco-Rodriguez fired a gun at the truck several times. 

DPD said the group got into the truck minutes later, and then Pacheco-Rodriguez fired his gun again as the truck pulled away. One of the bullets hit the driver, who later died, according to Denver Police. 

Credit: DPD
Dante Pacheco-Rodriguez

Security guard license

The department of excise suspended the security guard employer license held by J&M Security LLC, which provided the guards to the restaurant and bar.

The department said Pacheco-Rodriguez was not licensed as a security guard, which is a requirement in Denver. They also said that he had not received any approvals from the department to carry his firearm.

The department made the following accusations against the other guards:

  • One guard "unlawfully" fired their weapon into the air in an effort to disperse the crowd.
  • One guard shot a patron with a rubber bullet.
  • Other security guards collected shell casings for bullets fired during the incident.
  • Only one of the four guards had received the necessary licenses and endorsements to act as a security guard in Denver.

Security guard companies and individuals are required under Denver law to have a license. Security guards must complete a background check and complete 16 hours of training before being issued a license, and eight hours of training each additional year. 

Security guards in Denver are required to file an application and receive city permission to carry a firearm, and are required to wear a uniform unless they apply and receive special permission to dress in plain clothes.

Liquor license

The department of excise also suspended the hotel and restaurant liquor license and dance cabaret license held by Vigua LLC, which was doing business at Restaurante Lempira.

The business can still serve food during the suspension, but must remove all alcoholic beverages from public view and cannot conduct any business for which a hotel, liquor or cabaret license is required.

The restaurant and bar previously agreed to a settlement with the department of excise related to an incident where alcohol was served to a minor, according to documents obtained by 9NEWS.

The violation occurred in March, when Denver Police conducted a "compliance operation" at the restaurant. According to the documents, the security guard checked the ID of someone who was only 20 years old and allowed them to enter the bar.

That person then went to the bar and ordered two beers. The bartender yelled to the security guard to ask if their IDs were checked and was assured by the guard that the person was "of age," according to the documents. The 20-year-old was ultimately able to purchase the beers.

As part of that agreement, the restaurant agreed to pay a fine of $1,000 in June.

In August, additional violations were uncovered as part of another compliance operation by Denver Police, according to documents from the department of excise. 

At that time, officers encountered two unlicensed security guards at the business. Both said they were not associated with any other company but had been hired by the restaurant owner to do security. Both were issued criminal citations. 

The documents allege there were violations for unlawful carrying of weapons, since one of the guards had a baton, a canister of chemical spray and a taser.

In December, the restaurant was ordered to attend a "show cause" hearing on Feb. 9 to show why their liquor license should not be revoked as a result of the August incident.

Both businesses that received the summary suspensions have the opportunity to contest the licensing decision. The city will determine a time for a hearing. A hearing officer will issue a recommended decision which will be reviewed by Duplechian. She will issue the final decision in the case.

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