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Bridgeport Suspends Officers After Raid On Bar Turns Up Underage Drinking

Bridgeport City Councilwoman Michelle Lyons explains two new proposed ordinances, in the wake of an alleged rape and several arrests for underage drinking.
Bridgeport City Councilwoman Michelle Lyons explains two new proposed ordinances, in the wake of an alleged rape and several arrests for underage drinking. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Sacred Heart Dean of Students Larry Weilk addresses the issue of underage drinking on April 7. Bridgeport City Councilwoman Michelle Lyons and Police Chief AJ Perez look on.
Sacred Heart Dean of Students Larry Weilk addresses the issue of underage drinking on April 7. Bridgeport City Councilwoman Michelle Lyons and Police Chief AJ Perez look on. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Bridgeport is considering two new ordinances to protect college students and safeguard neighborhoods and has also suspended two police officers in the wake of a Tuesday underage drinking raid on a Bridgeport bar and the alleged rape of a 19-year-old Sacred Heart student.

“We will not tolerate anyone hurting our children,” said Police Chief Armando “AJ” Perez. “They’re young. They make mistakes.”

Speaking at a press conference on a residential street near the university campus, City Councilwoman Michelle Lyons said proposals now with the Ordinance Committee would call for future homes rented to students to be owner occupied. Those already renting to students could be grandfathered in should the owner pay a fee and comply with a renewal package with detailed questions about number of occupants, parking spaces and other issues.

In addition, Sacred Heart will open a new 216-bed residence hall in July, with plans for another 500 beds on adjacent property, meaning more students will be housed on the Fairfield campus and not in private homes, said Dean of Students Larry Weilk.

The measures come two days after Bridgeport officers raided the Golden Star Cafe on Main Street, issuing infractions to many Sacred Heart students for underage drinking. While the count was initially reported as 85 students, Perez said about 76 were Sacred Heart students.

Officers confiscated dozens of fake IDs and ticketed drinkers as young as 17, he said.

Two city police officers have been placed on administrative leave because they were moonlighting at the bar. Perez said the department is investigating their actions.

“I’m very disappointed in what they did,” he said. “It is what it is.”

The bar is not closed, but Perez said the State Liquor Commission is investigating several violations.

Perez said his department has plans for future raids at other establishments to cut down on underage drinking.

The bar is where a 39-year-old Bridgeport man arrested in the alleged rape met his victim, police said.

On March 30, Alfonso Reid is alleged to have taken the 19-year-old to his Scofield Avenue home, where he sexually assaulted her, police said.

Reid was taken into custody without incident at his home just hours before the raid, police said.

He was charged with first-degree sexual assault and held on $750,000 bond, police said.

Cherylee Norko, who lives near Sacred Heart, asked for heavier police patrols in the neighborhood on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

“You’re going to control a lot of the problems,” she said.

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