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Trouble bellies up to Mahuffer's Bar owner again

Owner John Susor's latest dustup has him accused of pointing a gun at his bartender.

By SHEILA MULLANES ESTRADA, Times Correspondent
Published November 1, 2007


Mahuffer's Bar owner John Susor, shown in 2003, is charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm in connection with a July incident. Susor, 88, says he will fight the charges in court. "I haven't done anything wrong," he said. "Nobody asked me what happened."
photo
[Times photo (2003)]
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INDIAN SHORES - John Susor, the colorful owner of Mahuffer's Bar, is in trouble with the law again. Authorities say he pulled a gun on his own bartender and then resisted arrest by two off-duty sheriff's deputies.

The incident happened in July, but Susor, 88, was not arrested until last month. He was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm.

Susor spent 28 hours in jail and, after a probable cause hearing Oct. 18, posted $10,000 bail the next day. An arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 13.

"I haven't done anything wrong. Nobody asked me what happened," says Susor, who says he will fight the charges in court.

He declined, however, to respond directly to the specific charges against him.

According to documents filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court by the State Attorney's Office, Susor "intentionally and unlawfully" threatened bartender Michael Martinez and off-duty detention Deputy Thomas Shea with a gun, putting both men "in fear" that "violence was imminent."

The charges also stipulate, however, that although Susor used a deadly weapon, there was no "intent to kill."

The incident began, according to an investigative report by Indian Shores Detective Jason Routzahn, when Martinez refused to serve a customer at the bar, at 19201 Gulf Blvd.

Susor "became upset" that the customer was refused service and asked to leave the bar. According to Martinez, when Susor "grabbed him by the throat," Martinez pushed back and pinned Susor against the bar.

"Susor then pulled a .38-caliber revolver from his pants pocket and pointed it at his (Martinez's) torso," Routzahn reported.

Two off-duty sheriff's detention deputies were in the bar at the time and witnessed the incident. Detention Deputy Lois Marconi yelled "gun" and tried to disarm Susor. Shea said Susor pointed the gun "directly at him" and his "finger was on the trigger."

According to Routzahn's report, Shea "forcibly removed" the gun from Susor, who "continued his violent struggle" against both Shea and Marconi. By this time the gun had fallen to the floor.

Indian Shores police Officer Shaun Griffin, who arrived later, said Susor told him "he threw the firearm under the bar" during the scuffle with the deputies.

During the struggle with Marconi over the gun, Susor reportedly said, "Just let me shoot him," Routzahn said.

Susor, who has been repeatedly arrested by Indian Shores police over nearly three decades, insists that this latest arrest is a continuation of the department's vendetta against him.

"This stuff has got to stop," Susor says. "It's ridiculous. They used to arrest me three or four times a week. Now they are doing it again. It amounts to harassment. They need to get rid of the Police Department."

In 2002, Susor pleaded guilty to not having licenses for his cats and paid a $36 fine. He was cited multiple times on charges of letting a dog run loose and was most recently fined $30 in 2000. His court record includes a charge of DWI in the 1980s, but by far the most serious previous case against him occurred in 1997 when he was charged with battery on an Indian Shores police officer, resisting arrest and criminal mischief after being accused of throwing a wadded up piece of paper at the officer.

Susor decided then, as he has now, to fight the charges in court. In the 1997 case, he won.

After the jury acquittal, Susor sued, charging that the officers had beaten him and knocked him unconscious. That time Susor lost his court fight.

Last week, Susor was back at his bar - but without his gun, which was seized, or his bartender. He is under court order to have no contact with Martinez.

"I didn't do this. If it was my fault, I would tell you so," he said.

[Last modified October 31, 2007, 21:20:46]


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