Santa Rosa councilman: Shooting doesn’t reflect bar’s positive impact on the area

A Santa Rosa City Councilmember who was among the patrons at a local bar Saturday night, just before a fatal shooting happened in its parking lot, said Monday that the incident in no way reflects the positive atmosphere the business brings to the community.

Eddie Alvarez said he spent about an hour visiting constituents at the Whiskey Tip, which had been hosting a rap and hip hop performance on Saturday night. He said he left the bar about 15 or 20 minutes before the shooting occurred around 9:15 p.m.

Based near the southeast corner of Sebastopol and Stony Point roads, the popular night spot attracts a cross section of Sonoma County patrons. It hosts all kinds of events, such as wrestling matches, fashion shows and live concerts that feature artists from all musical genres.

Just before opening the business at 3 p.m. Monday, an employee referred questions about the shooting to its owner, whose name he would not disclose. Neither the owner nor a manager of the business could be reached for comment.

Saturday’s performance attracted a crowd of about 100 people, the councilmember said, adding that the festivities were marred by the shooting.

“It was a great event that was tainted, scarred by this tragedy,” said Alvarez, who represents District 1, which includes Sebastopol and Stony Point. “This is definitely an unnecessary loss of life. Someone lost their life at a jovial place.”

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office identified the shooting victim as Kenneth McDaniel, a 27-year-old resident of Santa Rosa.

Another Santa Rosa resident, Fogatia Fuiava, 29, was identified as a suspect.

He was arrested on suspicion of murder at about 2:45 a.m. Monday along Anteeo Way near Moorland Avenue in an area just outside the city’s southern boundary and nearly 4 miles from the Whiskey Tip.

Fuiava is being held without bail at the Main Adult Detention Facility in Santa Rosa, jail records show.

McDaniel is at least the third homicide victim in Santa Rosa this year.

Prior to Saturday, the most recent homicide in the city occurred on July 5 when someone opened fire on a crowd that had gathered at an impromptu fireworks show along Beachwood Drive.

Even a single homicide is too much, Alvarez said, but Saturday’s incident is especially rare as it happened on the grounds of a business.

Police found McDaniel lying unresponsive in the parking lot Saturday night. Officers gave him medical aid before he was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead, the Santa Rosa Police Department said.

Little was immediately known about McDaniel, but Sonoma County Superior Court records show he had felony and misdemeanor cases against him dating back several years. Felonies included allegations of burglary, assault and possessing tear gas.

Investigators believe two people, armed with handguns, approached McDaniel in the parking lot and shot him. They then fled the area, police said.

Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Chris Mahurin said McDaniel and Fuiava knew each other, but weren’t friends. It appears an argument preceded the shooting, but a specific motive is under investigation.

Mahurin agreed that the Whiskey Tip “is not known for being a place of violence.”

It opened around six to eight years ago on property previously occupied by a bar called Giga’s, which had been around for decades.

Whiskey Tip sits at a busy intersection with heavy traffic and multiple small businesses, and is the only bar on the Sebastopol Road corridor, Alvarez said.

A long bar is parallel to the right side of the building and several tables and seats are visible to the left, with additional space in the rear on the patio. A sign above the door leading to the patio shows the bar has a maximum interior capacity of 65.

A makeshift memorial for McDaniel was set up on the edge of Whiskey Tip’s parking lot against a chain link fence separating the property from a building with several businesses, including a True Value Hardware store.

A Mexican food trailer sat next to the memorial on Monday and several customers observed the candles laid out for McDaniel, wondering what had occurred and why someone died.

Several feet away, a Whiskey Tip customer sat in his car while waiting for the bar to open. He said he knew nothing about the shooting, but that he’d been coming to the bar for several years and had no plans to stop.

Press Democrat reporter Matt Pera contributed to this story.

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