By Patrick Markey
A popular Northern Irish barman serving drinks in uptown Manhattan tavern was shot and critically wounded early Monday morning after he intervened when a male customer started insulting a group of woman at the bar.
Police said Belfast native David Patterson was gunned down inside Keenan’s Bar in New York’s Inwood neighborhood.
The alleged triggerman, Irving Muniz, a neighbor who lived above the bar, was arrested and charged with attempted murder in the second degree and assault in the first and second degree, a Manhattan district attorney’s office spokeswoman said.
Patterson was taken to Harlem Hospital’s trauma unit, where he underwent surgery for a wound to his abdomen. A hospital spokeswoman said Patterson’s family had asked that no information be released. But the Belfast man was still in intensive care on Tuesday morning.
Muniz was scheduled for arraignment in Manhattan State Supreme Court on Monday evening, the district attorney’s spokeswoman said.
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The shooting unfolded as Patterson was working with a handful of customers at the bar and Muniz started bothering his clients, according a detective familiar with the case.
When Muniz started to insult a group of female customers at the bar, Patterson moved to intervene, the detective said. Muniz went into the bathroom and returned brandishing a handgun. He allegedly shot Patterson once in the stomach before fleeing the scene, the detective said.
Ed Geraghty, the manager at Keenan’s, said Patterson was from the Belfast area and had been working at the bar for about six or seven months.
"He’s a popular guy, a nice guy, I never had any problems with him," Geraghty said.
The shooting is the second incident this year involving an Irish barman working in the Inwood area.
In March, David Delaney, a Stoneybatter native, was fatally shot in a bar just blocks from Keenan’s tavern.
Delaney was working alone when he was gunned down inside the Liffy II bar a Broadway and 213th Street in the early hours of March 28.
Police have made no arrests in that homicide investigation, but detectives are not short of theories. Soon after Delaney’s death, Irish authorities revealed that he had been a fugitive for the last decade after skipping the country on a sexual assault charge. Gardai held an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
A passerby found the 41-year-old Dubliner shot multiple times in the head and upper body and slumped in the doorway of the bar.
Delaney mentioned a man’s name in his dying moments and detectives questioned one local man before releasing him.
New York detectives contacted gardai about the outstanding Irish warrant and have not dismissed the possibility the killing could have been a revenge attack for that incident.
They are also looking into the theory the shooting may have been related to a gambling operation or outstanding debts.
Delaney was the second Irishman killed in Inwood in the last five years. While a connection between the two killings is unlikely, investigators have cross-checked firearms ballistics to see if any links surface to the slaying of Eamon Naughton, a bartender from Galway shot to death at the local Greenacres bar.