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Squabble over booth led to strip club shooting, police say

Glass Slipper nightclub

WENDY MAEDA/GLOBE STAFF

Two people were shot at the Glass Slipper nightclub early today. A suspect was arrested by Boston police.

Two patrons at The Glass Slipper strip club in downtown Boston were shot in the head by another patron during an ­apparent fight about a booth early Wednesday, authorities said.

The alleged gunman — Steve A. Gayle, 34, owner of a video gaming company in Jamaica Plain — was arrested by Boston police moments after the shooting, which occurred inside the club at 22 LaGrange St.

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Gayle was apprehended outside, holding a silver-colored handgun and carrying a backpack with 16 rounds of ammunition, authorities said. He was ­arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Boston Municipal Court and held on $250,000 cash bail.

One of the victims was in critical condition at Tufts Medical Center, and the other was in serious condition at Massachusetts General Hospital.

David Fredette, assistant Suffolk district attorney, said during Gayle’s arraignment that individuals approached a booth where Gayle was sitting and apparently tried to take it. After a brief quarrel, Gayle stood up and shot one man twice in the face, then shot ­another man in the head before hurrying toward an exit.

Moments later, at 2:13 a.m., a Boston police officer on paid detail at Centerfold’s, another strip club next door, heard a commotion coming from The Glass Slipper and noticed that a bouncer was pointing at a man dressed in a green shirt and green pants and carrying a black backpack. The bouncer and several patrons yelled, “He has a gun!”

An off-duty Boston police ­officer joined the detail officer in pursuing the suspect, who had turned onto Washington Street toward Kneeland Street. After Gayle’s arrest, they discovered that the hammer on the gun he was allegedly carrying was cocked and ready to fire, according to a police report.

Gayle made incriminating statements, Fredette said. But Pamela Harris-Daly, Gayle’s attorney, said during the arraignment that the police report does not contain any such statements and that her client “paints a very different picture,’’ indicating that he was assaulted by a group of people.

Investigators are studying surveillance footage from inside the club, the police report said.

Judge Eleanor Coe Sinnott allowed Gayle to remain in a hallway just outside the courtroom, and Harris-Daly provided her client with a manila folder that he used to conceal his face during the 15-minute arraign­ment.

A neighbor of Gayle’s on Mendell Street, who said she has known him for the past four years, ­described him as a loving father to his two children. The neighbor asked that only her first name, Bonnie, be used, because she fears retaliation.

Gayle’s dream was to open a videogame arcade that would serve as a safe haven for youth, a pursuit that was giving him joy, Bonnie said.

The business, called The Game Room, was getting off the ground, the neighbor said.

“He was looking for physical space in Boston,” she said. “We were talking about what it would be like to formulate a business plan.”

She said the yellow-shingled home where Gayle lived with his mother was foreclosed on about a month ago, and that the family had moved away.

“He grew up in this neighborhood when it was very rough, but he was clearly against gang violence,” the woman said.

According to the Suffolk district attorney’s office, Gayle has an open assault-and-battery case pending in West Roxbury District Court, from an incident in front of the house in January.

At his arraignment Wednesday, he was charged with two counts each of assault to murder and ­assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Also Wednesday, the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing requested that The Glass Slipper close immediately until safety issues are ­addressed.

Kenneth H. Tatarian, the attorney who represents The Glass Slipper, said the shooting was an isolated incident, and “we feel that is not a necessary step to be taken at this time.”

Tatarian said the club will implement new security procedures, including using a hand wand at the entrance that is capable of detecting metal objects.

Such devices are not mandatory, but are left to the discretion of the management, Tatarian said.

The Glass Slipper has operated on LaGrange Street since 1985 and was open at another location in the neighborhood when the city experimented with an adult entertainment district known as the Combat Zone in the 1970s.

The Glass Slipper and Centerfold’s are the two remaining downtown strip clubs.

Patricia A. Malone, director of the Licensing Division, ­issued a letter to Nicholas ­Romano, the club’s manager, advising him that an administrative hearing has been scheduled to address the ­incident and that Romano’s attendance is mandatory.

The hearing is scheduled for next Wednesday at 10:15 a.m., at City Hall, Room 801.

According to city records, the Licensing Division issued a warning to the establishment in March 2009 to improve patron screening at the entrance and to better monitor customer activity inside, after an unarmed robbery of a customer by another customer in front of the club.

Two other warnings were issued in the prior year, after a dancer stole a computer chip containing photocopies of customers’ identifications and credit card information.

The chip was recovered inside the club and was never compromised, the club’s manager said.

The other warning stemmed from an altercation between a patron and a bouncer.

Globe correspondent
Matt Byrne contributed
to this report. Brian Ballou
can be reached at
bballou@globe.com.
Follow him on Twitter
@GlobeBallou.

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