Fish Co. assault leads to alum’s arrest, three-day shutdown

By
Metro Editor
Thursday, September 10, 2009

The popular off-campus nightspot Fish Company shut its doors for three days last month as punishment after altercations at an April party sent two patrons to the hospital, including one who was punched by a bouncer. The bouncer, former Brown football player David Howard ’09, was charged with simple assault by police after escorting Paul Lilley, of Southborough, Mass., outside and allegedly punching him several times in the face, according to a police report. The report says Lilley and a witness identified Howard as the attacker.

Another victim, Thomas Kass, was beaten unconscious by an older white male whom police could not locate.

The bar was filled with Bryant University party-goers who had paid $20 for tickets that offered “all they could eat and drink,” as attendees told the police. Howard removed Lilley from the bar after he complained about being told to pay for drinks.
When police arrived, they found Kass on the ground and both Kass and Lilley, who were seniors at Bryant at the time, bleeding from the face. Both were taken to Rhode Island Hospital.

Police shut down the party after deciding the club was overcrowded and some patrons appeared to be underage.

The club, located at 515 S. Water St., is responsible for the conduct of its patrons inside and outside the building, said Maxford Foster, assistant solicitor for the city, who represented police at the August hearing at which Fish Co. agreed to close for three days. That oversight did not happen in this case, he added.

The city law department and police met with Fish Co. to work out the agreement, said Andrew Annaldo, who chairs the Board of Licenses, under whose purview the hearing took place. The board agreed that the three-day closure was an appropriate punishment, he said.

The city will soon adopt “more stringent requirements” regulating bouncers, including registration, training and background checks, Annaldo said. The changes, which must be approved by the City Council, are not a response to any particular incident but an “overall effort to improve how establishments handle nightlife,” he said.

Jay Kern, the owner of Fish Co., did not respond to phone messages requesting comment. The Providence Journal reported in August that Kern told the Board of Licenses that he admitted to the facts in the police report, saying that the situation got out of control when many more patrons than expected showed up.

Howard, the bouncer, pleaded not guilty to one charge of simple assault, the Journal reported on Aug. 21, and his case was pending in court.