Albany sees violent, deadly 24 hours, moves to clamp down

ALBANY – After almost two months without a deadly shooting in the city, gunfire has once again left two dead on city streets in little more than a 24-hour period.

The city’s 10th and 11th homicides of 2021 came amid Friday’s state of emergency declaration by Mayor Kathy Sheehan, an action that resulted in the shutdown of a Lark Street bar, Cafe Hollywood. Sheehan and Police Chief Eric Hawkins said in a statement that the business appeared to have a connection to the first shooting, which took place Friday morning. The bar’s owner, however, vehemently disagreed with that characterization. 

Lamon Lanier, 34, succumbed to injuries suffered after he was shot in the head sometime before 1 a.m. Friday around Willett Street and Hudson Avenue, police said. He had been taken to Albany Medical Center hospital, where he died Saturday morning.

At about 4:45 a.m. Saturday, police responded to the area of Third and Oak streets for reports of shots fired. Police said they found 30-year-old Rashad Nicholson in the street with gunshot wounds to his torso. He was treated at the scene by emergency medical personnel and taken to Albany Med, where he later died. 

The hospital also notified police that a 30-year-old man entered the emergency room with a gunshot wound to the abdomen, and a 32-year-old woman arrived with a gunshot wound to her leg. Both were also shot  on Third Street and were being treated for what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries, police said. 

They are the city’s most recent slayings since a spate of six homicides in May. It was an ominous echo of May 21, when two separate shootings resulted in the deaths of LaShon Turner, 39, near Henry Johnson Boulevard and Central Avenue, and Sharf “David” Addalim, 35, in a mass shooting at Quail and First streets.

Police said they are continuing to investigate this weekend’s incidents and did not say if they had suspects or any more information about motives or possible connections between the two. 

On Friday night, the mayor and police chief released a statement explaining their decision to declare the state of emergency, leading to the shutdown of Cafe Hollywood. The move was immediate and will last indefinitely: Under city code, it has been deemed to be a “public safety nuisance” because of concerns it may have been linked to the crime and due to previous calls made to police about the bar. The officials said they also want the State Liquor Authority to revoke the business’ liquor license.

“A preliminary investigation by the Albany Police Department indicates there appears to be a connection between Café Hollywood and the shooting incident that occurred early Friday morning on Willett Street near Hudson Avenue,” the statement from the city officials said without elaborating.

Sheehan explained that the state of emergency would suspend a section of city code, eliminating the need for a notice and a public hearing to close a business declared to be a public safety nuisance.

But the cafe’s owner, Collin Christopher Rost, said he was outraged over the action and the support for the shutdown expressed by some in the political and business community. Rost vowed to reopen and take the city to court and “countersue for defamation of character” for linking his bar to one of those slayings.   

Rost said he wasn’t on the premises about 5:30 p.m. Friday when “the police came in heavy with code enforcement, and just basically put a cease and desist order on my door and told my staff to leave.”


“I did not know there was anything being held against me previous to that particular closure,” he said Saturday. “I understood that there was an incident the night before but I did not know that it was allegedly directly affiliated with my business … but at the end of the  day it happened 1,000 yards away from my business around the corner in a park, not anywhere near my business, maybe one or two individuals could have been at my place, but they could have also been at other places around the Center Square area.” 

As to any connection, Rost said, “For (police and city officials) to tag (the shooting) directly to me, I think is inappropriate.”  
“I think this is absolutely disgusting what they have done to me, I am losing $25,000 in sales, I put 20 people out of jobs this weekend,” he added.   

Rost also took exception to comments on social media from some fellow business owners that Cafe Hollywood has for a long time had safety issues. He also disputed the city’s contention that police had responded to more than 20 service calls over the past three months.

On Saturday, Lark Street Business Improvement District Chairman Patrick Noonan said his organization supports the city’s actions.
Noonan stressed that “what’s going on at (Cafe) Hollywood is not anywhere indicative of what happens on Lark Street on a daily basis.”

“It seemed from an ownership standpoint and a management standpoint that it was a rudderless ship that needed to be reined in, so here we are,” said Noonan.  “There’s a fine line of trying to run a business and running it correctly and just letting anything go which seems to be the case.”   

Police continue to investigate the homicides and ask anyone with information to contact detectives at (518) 462-8039. Anonymous tips may also be sent to Capital Region Crime Stoppers by visiting capitalregioncrimestoppers.com.