Hazelwood bartender survives shooting, while being robbed

Imagine being robbed while looking down the barrel of a gun – and then, imagine that the crook starts shooting and doesn’t stop. See why this bartender, to which it all happened, says he’s lucky to be alive …

Officials say that Soobie’s Bar & Grill at 333 SE 122nd Avenue is usually pretty quiet – but not on this night.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
April 12 was just another night at Soobie’s Bar & Grill for bartender James Bennett. Some customers were watching the topless dancers; others were playing the video lottery games.

One customer sat quietly at one of the video lottery machines for about 90 minutes. Then, a little after 10 p.m., he whipped out a pistol, marched up to the bar, and demanded all the money from the cash register.

“At the beginning of the robbery the suspect fired a single round,” reported Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz. “The suspect acted extremely aggressive, and continued to threaten the victim as he was attempting to give the suspect money from the cash register.”

At one point, Bennett attempted to grab the suspect’s gun from his hand but was not successful.

“How he acted was absolutely insane,” Bennett said while he recovered from surgery at OHSU Hospital. “I just couldn’t believe what he was doing. He was pointing the gun in my face, and I could see him pulling on the trigger, over and over.”

Bennett was shot by the gun-waving thug five times before he fled the scene.

“Using surveillance video from the business, Robbery Detectives created still photos of the suspect and shared the photos within the law enforcement community,” said Schmautz. An officer recognized him.

Authorities say they suspect this man, Daniel Paul Nesta, as the person who shot – and kept shooting – the bartender at Soobie’s on Saturday night.

Three days later, Portland Police Bureau Robbery Detectives picked up 21-year-old Daniel Paul Nesta and charged him with one count each of Robbery in the First Degree, Assault in the First Degree, and Attempted Aggravated Murder.

It was later reported that a woman, who claimed to be the Nesta’s girlfriend, said this behavior was out of character for him.  She said he was a family man, and a cook who worked at the Rose Garden.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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