Bouncer testifies on bar shooting in Modesto

rahumada@modbee.comAugust 23, 2013 

  • ABOUT THE REPORTER
    Rosalio Ahumada
    Title: Courts reporter
    Coverage areas: Criminal cases, breaking news
    Bio: Rosalio Ahumada has been a reporter at The Bee for more than seven years, previously covering crime and public safety issues. He also has worked at the Merced Sun-Star, covering education.
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    On Twitter: @ModBeeCourts
    E-mail: rahumada@modbee.com

A bouncer testified Friday that he ushered two groups out of a north Modesto bar last summer minutes before shots were fired in the parking lot and an off-duty federal officer was fatally injured.

Patrick Platts was the head bouncer at O'Malley's Bar the night Daryl Chargualaf was shot during a fight between the two groups outside the business.

He said he found Chargualaf staggering outside the bar before collapsing, the back of his head against a large window of a business and the rest of his body sitting on the sidewalk.

The bouncer took off his shirt and used it to apply pressure on what appeared to be a gunshot wound on Chargualaf. He said the injured man was bleeding profusely, and he couldn't feel a pulse on Chargualaf.

"His eyes were rolling back into his head," Platts testified as a preliminary hearing resumed Friday for Robert Anthony Moreno, who is accused of murder in Chargualaf's death.

Police say Moreno fired a gun during the fight, and gunfire inadvertently struck and killed Chargualaf. Moreno and Chargualaf worked together as Department of Defense police officers at a facility in Tracy.

On Friday, Platts said he first saw the four men in a dispute inside the bar. The bar's owner was in between the two groups, presumably intervening in the dispute, and told Platts to get all four of them out of the bar.

On one side were Moreno and Chargualaf; on the other were two brothers. Platts first ushered out the two off-duty federal officers. He testified that Chargualaf was being uncooperative and looked like he wanted to fight.

Moreno stepped in and identified himself as an off-duty officer, telling Platts that the bouncer didn't need to follow them out the door, that he would take care of his friend.

"He kept raising his arms at me, 'I got him, I got him,' " Platts said about Moreno. He also said Moreno was fully cooperative and was trying to defuse the situation.

The bouncer returned to escort the brothers out of the bar.

Platts testified that it appeared the dispute was over a neon sign the bar's owner was giving away. He said one of the brothers, who was wearing a baseball cap, was belligerent with the owner and yelling that he felt they were cheated out of the neon sign.

"I had to physically push him out of the bar," Platts said about the brother wearing the baseball cap.

Bouncer tells of challenge

The belligerent brother challenged the bouncer to a fight shortly before he was pushed out of the bar, according to Platts. He said the brother told him, "Come see me at my car."

The bouncer returned to his duties, checking identification at the front door inside the bar. About five minutes later, Moreno walked into the bar and identified himself again as an off-duty officer. He told the bouncer he shot three people and to call for an ambulance.

"(Moreno) looked scared, like he realized he had just shot a couple of people," Platts testified. "Like he really wanted to help somebody."

The bouncer walked out and spotted Chargualaf, staggering before he collapsed. Platts went over and tried to stop the bleeding. He said Moreno stood over the bouncer, telling him, "You have to help him."

Then the brother without the baseball cap confronted Moreno, telling him, "You shot my brother," according to Platts. He said in court that the brother at one point kicked Chargualaf in the face as he sat on the sidewalk bleeding and the bouncer was applying pressure to the wound on his neck.

"My main focus was on the gunshot victim," Platts testified.

A fist-fight ensued between Moreno and the brother who kicked Chargualaf, Platts said. The bouncer stayed with Chargualaf until medics arrived.

He testified that when he when encountered the off-duty officer, Moreno never displayed a badge or identification. He said he wasn't sure at the time that Moreno was an officer, so he recovered a handgun that fell out of Moreno's waistband while Moreno was fighting with one of the brothers after the shooting.

The bouncer kept the gun until he gave it to one of the first police officers to arrive at the scene.

Valentin Ceniceros returned to the witness stand Friday afternoon after testifying Thursday that he witnessed the shooting while sitting in his parked vehicle. He said he didn't have a cell phone in his vehicle, and that's why he drove about a mile east to a donut shop and told a security guard to call 911.

About five minutes later, Ceniceros drove back to the shooting scene, but he didn't talk to police until a few days later. "I drove back to the parking lot to be nosy."

He also returned the following morning to the O'Malley's Bar parking lot in the shopping center at Standiford Avenue and Prescott Road. Ceniceros has provided investigators a limited description of the people involved in the fight but was not able to identify any of them.

Testimony in the preliminary hearing is expected to continue Sept. 13. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will determine whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or (209) 578-2394. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeeCourts.

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