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What’s the story on the Grove Bar shooting?

Photo: The Grove Bar on 14th Avenue in Vero’s Old Downtown.

Nearly two months after a closing-time bar shooting in the heart of Downtown Vero Beach left a 31-year-old owner collapsed on the pavement outside bleeding from multiple wounds, no arrest has been made and Vero Beach Police Department Capt. Kevin Martin on the record will only say that police are “waiting for information to come back.”

When asked for a copy of a sketch or description of the shooter outside the Grove Bar on 14th Avenue, or the model and color of his getaway vehicle, to disseminate to the public to help solve the case, the department shared nothing.

But public records requests by Vero Beach 32963 for a record of 911 calls and the incident report on the shooting raise a number of questions about what actually happened, why no public help has been sought, and why no arrest has been made.

After a scuffle in the bar escalated and shots were fired just before 2 a.m. on Friday, March 31, frantic 911 calls came in to Vero’s dispatchers – not from bar staff reporting the fight or the shooting of their boss, Stephan Andrew Capak, but from bar patrons who heard gunfire, and saw and described the man they thought was the shooter.

Two of them even went outside to get the tag number off a vehicle parked in front of The Grove bar on 14th Avenue.

The first 911 report of a shooting came in at 1:51 a.m., with the sounds of a chaotic scene and a woman shouting “Oh my God” in the background.

The frightened caller said the shooter was in what he thought was a black SUV, a Chevy, and that two black males were involved. He then attempted to get to the vehicle to get the tag number. “I can’t get close, they’re still firing shots,” the man told the police dispatcher.

A minute or so later, the caller did approach the vehicle and read the tag number to the dispatcher.

“OK, can you give me any information about who is shooting the gun?” the operator asked.

“It’s a black male, with dreads,” the caller said.

The operator asked, “Is he still there?”

“He’s still here, they’re not in the car. Need someone here right the (expletive) now.”

At that point, only three minutes after the call came in, a Vero police officer arrived on scene, but the 911 operator continued to get information from the caller and tried to calm him down as he apparently saw the victim on the ground on his way back into the bar and cried out, “Oh my God, someone’s been shot. Oh my God!”

The dispatcher asked the caller if he saw the policeman outside, and put him on hold to relay the gathered information to the officer, but the system kept recording and the caller, unaware he was on hold, kept talking – convinced he was observing the shooter.

“He’s walking away. The dude is walking away, the dude is walking in and out, he’s walking into the crowd,” the caller said. “He’s wearing a blue shirt, he’s trying to blend in with the crowd. The dude is walking into the bar, he’s walking into the bar. He’s behind a white girl with blonde hair.”

“No, the officer’s not getting him. They have officers talking to him, one officer is talking to him. He’s the shooter. He’s the (expletive) shooter. He’s walking away. The police are letting him walk away, man.”

“He’s in a blue shirt, long black dreads, the cop is talking to him right now,” the caller said, the recording still running while he was on hold. “Now he’s walking away. The cop is letting him get away. Can we like, contact the cop who is right there?”

“Oh my God, are you there? Just confirm that you’re here?” the caller said.

The operator came back on the line briefly, but loud background noise, yelling and sobbing was all that could be heard on the line. Then the caller asked, “Is EMS coming? Are you there?” and hearing nothing, he hung up.

A second 911 caller relayed similar information about the man with the dreadlocks, and that caller went to the back of the dark-colored SUV and read the same tag number off for the operator.

But the police incident report tells a different story than the horrified 911 callers.

“Witnesses immediately notified me that Capak had been shot and the suspect, a 5'10'', dark skinned black male with short cropped hair and light beard, had fled the scene northbound on 14th Avenue in a dark grey/black Honda Accord. The male was wearing a teal green/blue t-shirt and tan (or light colored) shorts at the time of the incident,” the police report said.

That might explain why the officer did not detain the man in the SUV with the dreadlocks.

But the SUV driver and his companion actually had come to the attention of police that night before they even reached the bar.

The two men in their mid 20s – both with a string of arrests in Indian River County according to Sheriff’s Office booking reports and court records – had been spotted after 1 a.m. when they were at the Seven-11 store at 2296 U.S. 1.

“The vehicle drew my attention due to the loud music emitting from the interior and a subject dancing in front of the vehicle,” the officer’s report states. “I observed what appeared to be a lighter skinned male dressed in a light colored shirt dancing near the vehicle and a black male with longer dread locked hair out side of the SUV on the driver's side.”

The officer followed the men as they traveled downtown.

“The vehicle reappeared traveling north on 14th Avenue where I observed the SUV parallel park in front of a bar known as The Grove located at 2215 14th Avenue,” he said in the report. “During the above listed travels and my observance of this vehicle at the time, the driver appeared to obey all traffic laws providing no reasonable suspicion to investigate any further.”

So the officer was still nearby and got to the scene quickly when the shooting call came in, noting, “Numerous people were screaming and running from the general area. I observed a white male subject later identified as Stephen (sp) Capak (owner/employee of The Grove) lying face up in the north bound lane of 14th Avenue. There were several frantic subjects kneeling over Capak who was bleeding from several areas of his body. “

The police report says the SUV driver had been “seen socializing with the suspected shooter at the bar prior to the shooting.”

State Attorney Bruce Colton’s spokesman, Assistant State Attorney Chris Taylor, confirmed that Assistant State Attorney Bill Long is “attached to the case” as he was on call when the shooting happened, but Taylor would say nothing about the status except, “I know Vero is actively investigating the case. I don’t know that they’ve submitted any subpoenas yet.”

Taylor said no investigator from the State Attorney’s Office is currently working with Vero police at this time. “I’m sure that they are looking into all angles,” he added.