Downtown Bakersfield resident Roy Keenan had to stop when he saw broken glass littering the sidewalk in front of Slice of Italy early Wednesday morning.

He knew the Italian pizzeria and bistro had been vandalized the previous night, and he shook his head in disgust that it had happened again, 24 hours later.

The city's Ward 2, he said,  has become "the ward of broken windows."

"This is the kind of thing that can drive someone out of business," he said in sympathy and solidarity with business owner Dupree Brar — and scores of other businesses that have been victimized downtown and in other areas of the city.

For the second consecutive night, windows and a door were smashed and broken at the downtown restaurant located at 2543 F St.

The first round of maliciousness began at about 10:40 p.m. Monday when two individuals Brar described as older teenagers began throwing rocks at the restaurant's windows. They also punched the glass out of one of the restaurant doors, Brar told The Californian Tuesday.

According to footage from security cameras, one of the two vandals had his face covered and was shirtless, while the other was wearing a jacket and a hoodie, Brar said.

By Tuesday evening all the broken glass had been swept up and black-painted plywood had temporarily replaced the smashed panes until replacement windows become available.

Then, overnight Tuesday or early Wednesday morning, the vandals apparently returned to finish the job. Every window that wasn't damaged in the previous attack, was bashed in the second incident.

"This is awful. I've already informed the police," said Ward 2 City Councilman Andrae Gonzales, who has been responding to the scenes of many of these incidents.

"I'm not immune to this," he said. "In the last six months, my office building has been broken into at least nine times."

Business owners downtown have expressed discontent over the ongoing vagrancy and homeless issue that's been plaguing the area. Are the teens spotted vandalizing Slice of Italy vagrants or homeless?

Reached Wednesday afternoon, Brar said he didn't think the vandals are homeless. The first night they arrived in a car, and before the second incident at 5:36 a.m. Wednesday, one of the men first arrived on a bicycle and seemed to check out the place before leaving and returning with an accomplice.

Did they appear to be the same two men in both incidents? Brar said he thinks one is the same and one is a third individual.

"They are obviously cowards," he said. "Doing this when no one is around."

On Tuesday, Brar told The Californian he was concerned that customers won't want to eat in his restaurant while his windows are boarded up.

But by Wednesday, that didn't seem to be the case.

"The community response has been unbelievable," he said. "People are calling us to show their support. People are coming in — even offering money."

The show of love and support — not just from regulars, but from people who have never been to the restaurant before — has helped to "settle and neutralize" the stress and worry Brar and his family have been feeling, he said.

Indeed, some customers and supporters of the beleaguered restaurant say they're making a special point of eating there, or grabbing some take-out. At about 4 p.m. Wednesday, two customers waited near the register for their to-go orders.

After hearing about the vandalism, local musician Mark Infante said he decided he was going to spend a little money at the restaurant. Same with Oildale resident Debbie Marsh, who was waiting for dinner for her family.

Neither had been in the restaurant before.

Meanwhile, in what appears to be a groundswell of support, people on social media said they were planning to get dinner at Slice of Italy Wednesday night or later in the week.

Sounds like a pizza party.

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

(10) comments

Stephen

Who are we going to let rule Bakersfield? Bums, vagrants and vandals? Or we going to make Bakersfield safe for the law abiding?

Often, citing laws protecting the rights of people behaving badly, law enforcement steps back from enforcing the laws designed to protect the innocent from the predator.

In contrast to what some judges, in dismissing cases, have said judges must recognize that it is not beneath their dignity to preside over a court case involving petty vandals including graffiti vandals. Legislative bodies and the law enforcing community, particularly including the courts, must remember when the rights of those behaving badly conflict with the rights of their victims, the victims' rights must always come first. Our civilization depends on it.

Bushwikker

Nice to see the sales tax increase creating real value for our residents and businesses.

sg56

Vagrants or homeless, both are non-contributors to society. I thought vagrancy was illegal. It appears the city is helpless in dealing with this ongoing problem or afraid. To bad for the business owners.

Zest

Tony Tee, forgive...but punish!

Fram Smith

If you own a small business in downtown Bakersfield , you will need to physically sleep there with weapons of defense , or pay someone to do so. Like any other war zone , it is the cost of doing business in downtown Bakersfield. This is yet another example , ( along with the homeless crisis , 24th street mismanagement , etc. ) of why we need to replace the current Bakersfield City Council members , with people who can solve these problems that are destroying the ability of small businesses to be exist downtown. Better to move to the Northwest or Southwest as opposed replacing window glass ; over and over and over again.

thatryguy

100%. The council is wholly ineffective, and hasn't completed a THING to assist in resolving this crisis. Downtown has a death clock ticking, and it's ticking fast.

Tony Tee

I send blessings to the victims, the vandals and the witness (We) because we are all One.

It is impossible to anyone to escape the Law of Karma, the Law of Cause & Effect.

I know this to be so.

Blessed are the Victims, the Vandals, and the Witnesses.

Widening our Circle of Forgiveness brings Justice for all concern.

And so it is.

Boogerface Nutter

Be a shame to throw a rock through a window only to be met with a 12-gauge load of birdshot coming back at you from inside...wouldn't it?



Oh...I'm one of those libtards people talk about. No sympathy for jackasses.


scottybob

I've never eaten there before, kind of out of my driving zone, but I just placed an order and will support them.

JimmyDude

What the he-ll is wrong with people?? Life isn't that complicated man. Get up in the morning, do something productive with your day, take care of your business and let everyone else do the same. Respect each other. FFS!

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