by, Analisa Novak
With midterms fast approaching, most Central Connecticut State University students can be found relieving stress by enjoying nights in downtown Hartford.
Taylor Lavoie, 18, East Granby, was one of those CCSU students as she and her friends packed into the crowded CTfastrak Bus on its way to Hartford this past Thursday night.
Drink specials like the “25 Cents Beer Night” weekly entice hundreds of local college students to the Angry Bull Saloon, where Lavoie and her three friends ended up.
As the evening wore on and the bars began to close, Lavoie and her friends became separated and her friends caught the last ride on the Fastrak out of downtown.
Lavoie did not; as her body was discovered later that evening in a five-foot alleyway between the Angry Bull Saloon and another building. Hartford Police and medical quickly responded to the scene and pronounced her dead.
The cause of death is still under investigation but is being ruled as an accidental fall, according to Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley. “At this time we have no indication that it was a homicide or a suicide, we believe it’s likely to be accidental.”
Investigators are still piecing together how Lavoie got on top of the Angry Bull roof, which is supposed to be closed and off limits to patrons. Lavoie is said to have fallen more than four stories.
According to Angry Bull, to get on the roof “a person must go up a stairwell from the second floor area through a fully blocking curtain, which indicates a blocked/off limits area. The roof access requires someone to go up two floors of abandoned space, continue to a ladder structure, climb it to a hatchway, then enter the roof through a small doorway area.”
Foley said that roof has no ledges and is extremely dangerous. “I went up on the roof, its treacherous, it’s disorientating, especially at night,” said Foley.
The mystery and questioning doesn’t stop there; investigators are working on answering how Lavoie was even allowed in the bar in the first place because, she was only 18 years old, far from the legal drinking age of 21.
Lavoie had an Angry Bull wristband on and a fake ID when her body was found, said investigators.
But CCSU student Sabrea Collins said that Lavoie getting into Angry Bull is no mystery at all. Collins, who is under the age of 21, has also been to Angry Bull Saloon plenty of times and said sometimes patrons don’t even need a fake ID, just an additional 10 dollars.
“If you have a fake ID you just give it to them and if you don’t just give them money,” Collins said.
CCSU Student Abe Caban also said that Angry Bull’s lack of proper identification is what makes it a popular for college students.
“If you paid twenty dollars and you’re sixteen, you can get in for free with a Fake ID. You can see the environment and see that kids are underage there.”
Angry Bull was under a watchful eye from the Hartford Police dating back to November of last year. Foley said that Hartford Police had made multiple complaints to the Liquor Control Commission, the most recent complaint on Feb. 24.
Foley said that The Department of Consumer Protection, who oversees all liquor controls alongside with the Hartford Police, was planning an undercover raid for next week. Staffing and availability from both departments played an important key on why the raid was delayed.
“When they did want to do an operation next week we couldn’t do it because it’s all hands on deck for the St. Patrick’s Day parade and for the basketball tournament and cheerleader competition, so it’s going to be a busy weekend. We were in communication with them this week, they had our documentation, we wished it moved faster in a perfect world but that’s not where we are,” Foley said.
CCSU Senior Mark Mancini said that with a raid or not, it was well known to everyone that alcohol was being served to underage students and something should have been done to prevent this tragedy.
“It’s just a shame that students who are out there looking for a good time, something unfortunate would happen. The amount of underage students that let in is unreal there,” said Mancini.
CCSU Student Government Association President Jahmil Effend said that this could have been easily preventable and it’s unfortunate that CCSU and the family had to lose someone in order for action to be taken.
“The Angry Bull Saloon has had a notorious reputation of allowing underage students to get in. The police in the area have dealt with countless complaints, but nothing has been done. This tragedy could have been avoided had the bar staff and management acted appropriately,” Effend said.
Angry Bull remained quiet most of Friday morning. It released a statement later that night on their Facebook page denying allegations that it serves patrons who are under age.
“We consistently have several members of our security staff outside the entry door of the establishment to ensure all patrons are checked for proper identification stating they are 21 or above.”
In that statement, Angry Bull said it is devastated by the death of Lavoie and that there thoughts and prayers are with her family.
Lavoie, who was a biology major, lived in the Mid Campus Dorms. CCSU President Dr. Zulma Toro released a statement in which she extended her condolences to those who knew Lavoie.
“Beyond the grief that we feel, tragedies such as this remind us how important it is for us as a community to cherish and support each other,” Dr. Toro said.
Counseling services are currently being offered by the Wellness Center for any students who wish to seek it. John Campbell, of the Campus Ministry is also available to speak to students. There is no word at the moment of a planned memorial for Lavoie.
The doors of Angry Bull remained shut Friday evening and will remain closed for the next couple of weeks. Angry Bull voluntarily suspended their liquor permit on Friday.
“The Angry Bull Saloon voluntarily met with and agreed to suspend its liquor permit out of respect for the family of the deceased in this difficult time.”
According to Foley it will remain suspended until March 24.
Angry Bull will be using its suspension time to “review procedures and the incident with the Hartford Police Department and Department of Consumer Protection.”
Foley has not indicated if this is a permanent suspension.
The bar permittee is listed as Stephen White. He is said to be cooperating with investigators.
The investigation is ongoing and anybody who has information on this is urged to call the Hartford Police.
If Angry Bull reopens its doors, some CCSU students, like Caban, will not be returning. “I just went there for the first time and I’ll probably never go back to be honest.”