Former operator of Frankford bar sentenced

By John Loftus

Times Staff Writer

The former op­er­at­or of a no­tori­ous Frank­ford bar has been sen­tenced to sev­en to 20 years in pris­on for his role in the 2011 shoot­ings of two people who were protest­ing the re­open­ing of his tav­ern, which had been closed since an un­der­age man had been killed there.

Shamus Arms­ted of West Phil­adelphia, who had op­er­ated the T&T at Mar­garet and Hawthorne streets, was sen­tenced Nov. 7 in Com­mon Pleas Court, ac­cord­ing to As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Al­isa Shver. In mid-June, he was found guilty of ag­grav­ated as­sault and reck­lessly en­dan­ger­ing an­oth­er per­son. He faced up to 42 years in pris­on, pro­sec­utors said after his con­vic­tion.

The T&T was shut down after  20-year-old Chris­toph­er Spence, of the 4700 block of Griscom St., had been gunned down in­side early on Feb. 19, 2011. His al­leged killer, Tyrese Ford, is sched­uled to go on tri­al this week.

Neigh­bors had long com­plained about un­der­age drink­ing, fights and noise at the corner bar. Two days after Spence died, friends, fam­ily and neigh­bors crowded the streets out­side the T&T and vowed the bar would nev­er re­open.

The bar re­mained closed, but only for a while. Neigh­bors, in­clud­ing the dead man’s moth­er, Javese Phelps-Wash­ing­ton, took to the streets daily in protest when the bar re­opened weeks later as the Deuces Lounge. 

Phelps-Wash­ing­ton said she re­garded the re­open­ing as a slap in the face.

A month after Spence’s death, Arms­ted drove up to the pro­test­ers along with two oth­er men who nev­er have been iden­ti­fied, Shver said in an in­ter­view on Fri­day. One of the oth­er men was armed with two hand­guns and began fir­ing in­to the crowd of pro­test­ers when he got out of the car.

Bul­lets struck two people, but no one was ser­i­ously in­jured, Shver said.

Arms­ted was not ac­cused of fir­ing a weapon, Shver said, but sur­veil­lance tape showed him stand­ing shoulder to shoulder with the armed man, who then began chas­ing the flee­ing pro­test­ers as he fired at them. Shver said Arms­ted could be seen calmly go­ing back to his car to wait for the gun­man to re­turn.

Shver said Arms­ted test­i­fied at his tri­al in the spring that he didn’t know the oth­er two men who had got­ten out of the car with him, and that he was sur­prised when the shoot­ing star­ted.

Wit­nesses, however, said they didn’t re­cog­nize the shoot­er, which led pro­sec­utors to be­lieve he wasn’t there on his own.

The bar since has been closed for good and its li­quor li­cense voided. There was a plan to re­open the premises as a gro­cery store, but neigh­bors re­jec­ted that pro­pos­al at two sep­ar­ate com­munity meet­ings.

Shver said crime in the neigh­bor­hood around the bar has dropped since it went out of busi­ness.

Ford, who was just 19 when he was ar­res­ted in 2011, is sched­uled to go on tri­al in Com­mon Pleas Court on Fri­day. He had been sched­uled to go on tri­al Ju­ly 9.

A re­vised med­ic­al opin­ion about the vic­tim’s autopsy promp­ted the later tri­al date, As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Gail Fair­man said dur­ing the sum­mer. Align­ing the cal­en­dars for the court, pro­sec­utor and de­fense at­tor­ney led to push­ing the tri­al back al­most sixth months.

Spence, who had played foot­ball for the Frank­ford Char­gers and Frank­ford High School, was shot in the chest and was taken by car to Aria Health’s Frank­ford cam­pus. He was trans­ferred to the hos­pit­al’s Tor­res­dale cam­pus, where he died at 3:11 a.m. Feb. 19, 2011. Fair­man said the shoot­ing was the res­ult of a fight over a girl. ••

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or

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