Albany State of Emergency forces local business to close

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — One business in downtown Albany must shut its doors immediately and indefinitely after the city declared a state of emergency due to rising gun violence.

Due to recent gun violence in the capital city, Mayor Kathy Sheehan declared a state of emergency on Friday. The declaration includes an executive order mandating Cafe Hollywood on Lark Street to close.

Owner Collin Rost says he’s frustrated that his business is being targeted and closed down over a perceived connection to local gun violence. “How about give me some warning? How about say, ‘Hey, slow your roll a little bit, Collin.”

“I know there are people who oftentimes look at this as if we’re blaming an establishment. But what we’re really trying to do is keep people safe,” says Sheehan.

Sheehan says the decision is not personal. “Under our normal ordinances,” she says, “it would take either 30 days or the earliest next week before we could close it down and we just felt for the safety of our residents and the safety of our community, we didn’t want that place to reopen.”

Within the last three months, Cafe Hollywood has been the subject of 20 separate calls to police. One call was over Friday’s shooting on Willet Street near Hudson Avenue, where a man was shot in the head. That shooting is now being investigated as a homicide.

“So the crime that allegedly I am being tied to happened a thousand yards from this building, around the corner in the park,” says Rost.

Rost has hired an attorney. He says he’s losing his livelihood. He’s been operating Cafe Hollywood for 20 years. Over the two decades, he received noise complaints, but never a cease and desist notice on his door.

“Luckily, we’ve been busy. I believe the neighborhood and the police department has been inundated by not only my place but other places with high volume of calls that might be noise-related nuisances. At the end of the day, I don’t believe that’s justified to closed.”

Sheehan says her executive order is necessary to combat the rise in local gun violence. “If a gathering then devolves into a shoot-out, we have to understand who is at that gathering? Who knew that there were guns there? How can we deescalate these situations so that they’re not happening in our city?”

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