Home Main Category Opinion A Prophetic Letter, A Murder – Will Things Change In Walnut Creek?

A Prophetic Letter, A Murder – Will Things Change In Walnut Creek?

A prophetic letter to the Walnut Creek Planning Commission, written in 2012.

The behavior of some downtown club owners and the problem of unruly patrons spilling into city streets at closing time has been an issue in Walnut Creek for some time.

So much so, in fact, that one downtown developer penned a letter to the Planning Commission predicting “significant detrimental impact” to local businesses in the event of a “tragic death due to late night alcohol related violence” in 2012.

Whether that prediction, proffered by area developer Brian Hirahara, comes true in the wake of a gun-related homicide just steps from the nexus of downtown nightclubs at Locust and Cypress streets remains to be seen. But it is clear that the murder of 38-year-old Courtney Brown, gunned down with three shots to the back as the downtown clubs were letting out just this past weekend, weighs heavily on the minds of many concerned about the prospect of violence in a part of town designed to be visited and enjoyed.

“As a downtown, we’ve obviously concerned and will be proactive in efforts to prevent another incident like this,” Hirahara said this week in response to our inquiry about his 2012 letter to the planning commission – then concerned by some high-profile street fights that had made their way out of downtown clubs and onto YouTube.

Of course, we’re not sure what proactive efforts will entail. Club and bar owners have had their own security and precautionary measures in place for some time, some instituted despite resistance from suburban patrons who found them draconian.

And then came 1:28 a.m. Saturday morning, with a 24-year-old Bay Point man shooting Courtney Brown in the back after the older man stepped out of Crogan’s Sports Bar and Grill. It is not known if the suspect waited for Brown outside the bar or had been with him inside, and at this point it is not know what prompted Griffin to pull out a gun and fire three shots into Brown’s back.

Griffin’s motive remains as unclear as what the city, club owners, and those with interests downtown can do to stop crime downtown, short of banning people from coming downtown in the first place. We don’t think that is likely, or feasible.

And we wait to see what measures will be taken to curtail a problem some say has already escaped from its bottle.


  1. How do you prevent someone from bringing a gun into a business? are we talking x ray machines and metal detectgors now???

  2. The way I see it you can go and be careful, go and just not think about who has what around you or you can just avoid going entirely. I’m not panicking here but at the same time I’m asking myself if a beer and a burger at Crogans or any other place downtown is worth the possibility of a confrontation with some jackalope with a gun. Right now for me the answer is no.

  3. Suspend and eventually revoke their liquor license. It happens all the time when murders occur outside of a club. No alcohol… you won’t draw the crowd. The residents and business owners of Walnut Creek don’t need this.

  4. Unless the nightclub has done something to directly contribute to the crime I would think it would be difficult at best to penalize the business. At this point all we know is the victim in this case was in the business prior to his death. It seems like a stretch to say the nightclub was responsible for that somehow because it sold alcohol? A good lawyer could argue around that I think. If we’re arguing strictly attractive nuisance — that by virtue of its service offering the club constitutes an attractive nuisance likely to draw undersirables to the neighborhood you might have something as I think the club(s) down there have been penalized in the past.

  5. Kind of eerie that the writer would mention what would happen if something like this went down and surprising that his prediction would come true in four short years. I’ll be watching to see what happens down there. I’m interested to see what if anything the city will do.

  6. I’m going to sound like a prude here, but I would not miss it if some of those bars would close down. In my opinion they attract people from out of area who do nothing but come to drink. They also seem to attract more unsavory types of characters. I don’t think they really patronize stores or restaurants or other businesses in the city. They just come to drink. Which means only that one business is benefiting from them.
    Regarding the revocation of a liquor permit, I believe it can be done when a business attracts trouble to an area on a repeated basis. I would like to see the city of Walnut Creek and the Police Department use those avenues on these troublesome bars.

  7. I see no basis for punishing any business here. I do, however, think it would be reasonable to direct fees from liquor licenses (and/or local taxes on booze sold by places not primarily selling food) to pay for extra police patrols/presence at hot spots.

    I also think (as I noted elsewhere here) that numerous and prominent CCTV cameras could be an effective deterrent / enforcement tool.

  8. Crogan’s had their liquor license suspended for 20 days on 4/17/14, and placed on probation for two years. They were operating a “disorderly house,” a drain on law enforcement according to the ABC. Fights, assaults, public drunkenness, and other public nuisances, leading to over 200 calls to law enforcement.

    If they can suspend a license and place a business on probation for two years for fighting, drunkenness, etc. they can REVOKE A LICENSE for murder.

    This is an ongoing problem, and it’s time to get tough. Put them OUT OF BUSINESS. They’re attracting the criminal element. Enough is enough.

  9. Greg T and Danielle— strange bedfellows seemingly from the far left and right, united in their exaltation of paternalism over freedom. Sigh.

    Neither Sports Bars, nor alcohol nor guns are responsible for this death. Criminals are. Murder is already illegal.

    As I said, if a for-profit bar or other establishment (concert venue,for example) attracts potentially unruly crowds on a regular basis, I think it is fair to impose the cost of additional private security and/or police on the business. But do we really want to ban all nightlife from our only local “downtown” (and largely non-residential) area? Seems like an over-reaction.

  10. I’m not the far left or the far right (I’ve been a MODERATE all my life), but Greg and I do agree on a lot of things. We’re both very logical.

    Chris, you and I agree on NOTHING. Whether it’s residential water over usage, DUI checkpoints, residential burglaries, liquor license revocation, etc… you’re logic (or lack thereof) is flawed.

    Whether you feel like it’s an “over-reaction” or not, liquor license revocation happens all the time where murders occur outside of nightclubs. The nightclub is held responsible for serving liquor (and rightfully so). The same way a bar is held responsible (the reason bartenders will CUT YOU OFF), or homeowners are liable for alcohol served at a party. We can all be sued.

    Google it…

  11. Danielle is referencing a Mercury News story. (Sorry, I can’t find the link right now.) Crogan’s WC has been penalized multiple times over a period of years. I have no idea how their record ranks against other drinking establishments, but apparently there are legal remedies, as she suggested, when police are brought in again and again to restore order. Apparently their 2 year probation recently ended, and it’s Woohoo! more of the same.
    Chris, if the club doesn’t provide “adequate” private security over a period of time what is the remedy? Aren’t they then a public nuisance? If you shut down the irresponsible club maybe a responsible club will fill the void.

  12. Sorry, of course, you are undoubtedly right about her source. The Google sent me to that other news source yesterday. When I went to find the link today, the server was down…and down again later.

  13. @Danielle: that you disagree with says nothing (one way or the other) of the power of my logic.

    @David: I would not hold bars strictly liable for the actions of their patrons— especially not apparently intentional murders (not reasonably within their control). I would fine them (and consider license revocation) for repeatedly serving already visibly drunk patrons (in their control).

  14. Chris, you’re right. We can agree to disagree. Your reference to my political party (which is way off base) prompted my “response.”

    The way one thinks (on non-political stories) has nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with logic, or lack thereof. Or just an opinion, period.

    I don’t respond to political stories, because like most MODERATES, I’m not a political person. I leave politics to the left and the right. The left and the right see EVERYTHING as a political issue. It’s not my style…

  15. @Danielle: I see everything through a lens of logic and rationality. 😉 I consider myself a libertarian with consequentialist leanings.

    I apologize if I mis-bucketized you.

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