Stabbing victim’s friends, politicians demand Bay Ridge bar’s closure

An early morning brawl at Catrinas Bar and Grill in Bay Ridge turned fatal on Jan. 29, prompting locals to call for the business’ closure.
Photo by Paul DeLuca

Friends and family of 22-year-old Anthony D’Onofrio, who was fatally stabbed outside of the notorious Catrina’s Bar and Grill, are pushing for the Bay Ridge bar’s closure. 

“We want justice for Anthony, his family and friends, and the community at large,” his friend wrote in an online petition on Change.org. “We are calling on law enforcement and elected officials to look into Catrinas and take action!” 

Officers from the 68th Precinct responded to 911 calls of an ongoing assault at 7316 Third Ave. in Bay Ridge on the early morning of Jan. 29 to find two victims suffering from stab wounds — one of them was D’Onofrio, who was stabbed in the chest.

EMS transported both victims to NYU-Langone Hospital Brooklyn in Sunset Park, where doctors pronounced D’Onofrio deceased. The second victim remains in stable condition following a stab wound to his head. 

The NYPD’s investigation later revealed the two victims were involved in a large dispute with someone else at the bar.  

While the alleged stabber was not immediately apprehended because he fled from the scene before the NYPD’s arrival, the 19-year-old was arrested the following day on charges of murder and criminal possession of a weapon. 

D’Onofrio’s friends launched their online petition on Jan. 31 to demand area elected representatives request the closure of Catrina’s and to the State Liquor Authority to revoke their license, arguing the watering hole has a long history of violence — and have already received over 2,700 signatures in their first three days. 

“This senseless act of violence is a part of a well-documented and dangerous pattern of illegal and reckless behavior inside and outside this establishment over the years,” the petition states. “It is clear that the owners of Catrina’s have no intention of following the law, no regard for the neighborhood in which they operate, and even less regard for keeping their own customers safe.” 

Not long after the incident, Councilmember Justin Brannan, who represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst, penned a letter with state Sen Andrew Gounardes, who represents a large swath of southern Brooklyn, to the State Liquor Authority asking they revoke the bar’s liquor license citing a rampant neglect of the laws and supervision of the illicit activities going on inside and outside of their establishment. 

“Since early 2021, we’ve written to the SLA about various concerns regarding this establishment,” Brannan and Gounardes wrote. “We have repeatedly raised examples of underage drinking, illegal drug use and drug sales, noise complaints, alleged sexual assaults and other violent incidents taking place inside and directly outside the premises.” 

The Jan. 31 letter further states that the State Liquor Authority has handed down several violations to the restaurant in the last 18 months, including six charges issued in March of last year for failing to supervise and failing to comply, for which fines were due on Feb. 1. 

“The senseless act of violence is a part of a well-documented and dangerous pattern of illegal and reckless behavior inside and outside the establishment over the years,” the lawmakers added. “SLA has charged them multiple times in the last 18 months, including six charges for failure to supervise and failure to comply from March 2021 that the fine is due this very week on February 1st.” 

Both the online petition and the pols’ letter question why the 19-year-old defendant was at the bar in the first place, as he is under the drinking age. 

“In the case of the murder of Anthony D’Onofrio, the restaurant was seemingly negligent and passive as the situation unfolded,” the petition states. “Additionally, their serving of alcohol contrary to laws on age and failure to detect weapons on patrons appears grossly careless and irresponsible.” 

The defendant is represented by Legal Aid and is scheduled to next appear in court on Feb. 4.

Catrina’s Bar and Grill and the State Liquor Authority did not respond to requests for comment by press time.