For the second time since 2008, bar owner Andy Kochanski has had to use a gun to ward off bandits from his bar, this time killing one suspect and on the same day that Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Washington CeaseFire launched their “gun free zone” campaign, the shooting was declared self-defense.
The outpouring of support for Kochanski in the wake of the shooting has been remarkable.
Examiner tried to reach Kochanski to ask his opinion about gun free zones, but since he is in Milwaukee, Wis., it’s not likely he will be participating in the McGinn/CeaseFire effort. In fact, Kochanski’s Concertina Beer Hall is hosting a concealed carry class on Aug. 25, and it is already full, according to the Wisconsin Carry.org website.
Milwaukee is a city with roughly the same population as Seattle, with Milwaukee trailing the Jet City by about 25,000 people. Where Seattle beats Milwaukee hands down is in the number of homicides. Last year, there were 91 murders in Milwaukee and so far this year there have been more than 50. Last year, Seattle logged 23 homicides and by the end of July this year, according to the Seattle Police website, there were 11 homicides, but it is not clear if this number includes the four involving police officers.
Northwest gun rights activists miffed at the Seattle gun free zone project might start suggesting that McGinn and CeaseFire take the next Greyhound to Wisconsin and try their sales pitch.
Kochanski, according to published reports, was in his Concertina Beer Hall last Thursday evening when three would-be robbers came in, and tried to pull an armed robbery. Kochanski grabbed his pistol and opened fire, killing one 23-yer-old bandit and sending the other two running.
In 2008, he traded shots with two thugs who came in during a Christmas party, carrying a sawed-off shotgun. One person in the bar was wounded but the robbers got away that time.
The Concertina Beer Hall is in a modest red brick building with a sign over the door advertising live music. It’s the kind of building one might find in Ballard or West Seattle, or even on Capitol Hill, except that it is not a self-imposed “zone of happy thoughts” where the owner has any delusions that a decal in the window will discourage some criminal or kook from walking through the door.
Kochanski has posted on the bar’s Facebook page that the “event that happened Thursday night was a horrible thing. This shouldn’t be turned into some political thing.”
However, that may be inevitable, considering the class scheduled this coming Sunday.
But on the same Facebook page, he 43-year-old bar owner also wrote this:
"I would like to state that I did what I had to do to protect my customers and myself. I have no regrets and would do it again if need be.
"PLEASE do not let this keep you from having a great time here. PLEASE do not let this tarnish this neighborhood. This could and has happened anywhere."
"You should ALWAYS feel safe here," he wrote.
Much safer with Kochanski and his pistol behind the bar, than with one of McGinn’s decals in the window.