By Patrick Markey
Gunfire rang out at New York’s Gaelic Park on Sunday night, sending panic through crowds of revelers who packed the grounds’ bar after watching the weekend’s football and hurling.
Bronx detectives said one man was shot in the hand and another arrested after two long-time friends clashed in an alcohol-fueled dispute inside the GAA stadium’s crowded bar.
Police said County Monaghan native John Nolan managed to squeeze off one round at his friend inside the bar before being beaten and held by other customers.
The injured man, 44-year-old Michael Mulholland, was taken by friends to nearby Montifiore Hospital, where he was treated for a gunshot wound to his right hand, police said.
Nolan, also briefly hospitalized because of injuries sustained as customers restrained him, was initially charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon, according to a police spokesman.
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“The two men have known each other for about 16 years. The victim was intoxicated and the perp was intoxicated,” said a police source familiar with the incident.
“They got into a pushing and shoving match and then Nolan displayed a .25-caliber handgun and one round was fired.”
Police recovered the weapon from the bar with five live rounds inside. The weapon’s serial number had been scratched off the barrel, which could lead to additional charges, the police source said.
A complaint filed with Bronx district attorney’s office charges Nolan with assault, reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a weapon and ammunition and menacing. Bail was set at $1,000 and Nolan will appear in court again on Oct. 6, a district attorney’s spokeswoman said.
The Gaelic Park bar was packed with sports fans, players and their families after a full day of games when the fight broke out shortly after 7:30 p.m. Witnesses said the barroom scuffle quickly degenerated into panic after the gun was fired inside the building.
“I was standing outside when a guy came running out shouting, ‘He’s got a gun, there’s blood everywhere.’ Then people starting running round looking for their kids and their friends,” said one bystander who was at the games and who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The shooting is the latest black eye for the troubled sports ground. Recently the GAA fields faced an uncertain future after reports surfaced that the ground could be returned to its owner the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The MTA currently leases the grounds to nearby Manhattan College who sublet part of the playing fields to the New York GAA.
The bar is operated by the O’Donnell family, who could not be reached for comment. But a barman who answered the telephone at Gaelic Park referred all calls to the police.
New York GAA spokesman John Moore quickly distanced his organization from the bar shooting.
“This happened after the last game and in the bar, which is not related to the GAA,” Moore said. “But it’s an unfortunate incident. Nothing like that has ever happened before.”
Manhattan College president Brother Tom Scanlon was unaware of the shooting incident, but downplayed the importance of a single incident in the grounds’ history.
“Obviously anything like this is disturbing. The games are truly a family gathering,” he said. “But clearly this is an isolated incident.”