Los Angeles

Long Beach bar owners say they’re being unfairly targeted after fatal hit and run involving customer

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) — Owners of a Long Beach bar claim they are being unfairly targeted after local politicians and police accused the business of overserving a man suspected of crashing into a home and killing a father and his young daughter.

Co-owners Suzanne Blevins and Marlow Stanford say they just want to clear their names of any wrongdoing. Their business, the Bottoms Up Tavern, had its liquor license suspended indefinitely and the bar is now closed.

Octavio Islas, 24, is accused of crashing his truck into the apartment of Jose Palacios Gonzalez, killing him and his 3-year-old daughter Samantha Palacios.

“By closing this bar, we are preventing another mother, wife, son, brother from suffering a tragedy,” said Esnelia Palacios, who lost her husband and daughter in the crash back in March.

The owners say they did not overserve Islas.

“We did not overserve the customer. His brother gave him cocaine before he got in his vehicle,” Stanford said. “We’re basically here to clear our name. We have no dog in this fight.”

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control says some bar employees were also selling narcotics.

“Our investigation also involved an undercover operation where ABC agents purchased cocaine, ecstasy and oxycodone on multiple dates from bar employees,” said Armando Gonzalez with the Alcohol Beverage Control.

Stanford responded to Gonzalez’s statement by saying the accusation involved one security guard who worked there for two months.

Police are still looking for Islas.

“His charges include two counts of felony manslaughter, one count of felony driving under the influence and one count of felony hit and run,” Long Beach Police Cmdr. Megan Zabel said. “Mr. Islas remains outstanding despite our efforts to locate him.”

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