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 establishment.
Shamus Armsted of West Philadelphia, who operated the T&T bar at Margaret and Hawthorne streets, was sentenced on Nov. 7 in Common Please Court, according to Assistant District Attorney Alisa Shver. He had been found guilty in June of aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person.
The T&T had been shut down since 20-year-old Christopher Spence was gunned down inside the bar on Feb. 19, 2011. His alleged killer, Tyrese Ford, was 19 at the time.
Neighbors, who had long complained about underage drinking, fights and noise at the corner bar, had vowed days after Spence’s death that the T&T would never reopen. They took to the streets daily in protest when its doors opened briefly weeks later as the Deuces Lounge.
A month after Spence’s death, Armsted and two men who have never been identified, drove up to the protesters, Shver said in a phone interview on Friday. One of the other men was armed with two handguns and as he emerged from the car he began firing into the crowd of protesters.
Two people were hit, but no one was seriously injured, Shver said.
Armsted was not accused of firing a weapon, Shver said, but a surveillance tape showed him standing shoulder to shoulder with the armed man, who 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 late spring that he didn’t know the other two men who had gotten out of the car with him, and that he had been 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.
Ford’s trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 16 is Common Pleas Court.
The bar is closed for good and its liquor license has been voided. There had been a plan to reopen the premises as a grocery store, but at two separate community meetings, neighbors said they were opposed to that proposal.
Reach reporter John Loftus at 215-354-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org