TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Police are investigating after a car crashed into a bar in Ybor City early Tuesday morning.
The incident happened around 3:30 a.m. Tampa police say a crowd of people had gathered outside the Bad Monkey bar on 7th Avenue when a scuffle broke out. Police say one of the people got into the car and attempted to make a U-turn on 7th Avenue, but the other people on the street began to attack the car and driver.
Police say that’s when the man drove into the crowd, also slamming into the front door of the bar. The driver then fled on foot. Police are working to determine if the driver did it intentionally or lost control of the car.
One person struck by the car was transported to the hospital with a leg injury. Police say he refused treatment.
Police are still searching for the driver of the car.
Tampa police are reviewing surveillance video from the Bad Monkey.
“It was really chaotic,” said Carlos, a witness who asked us not to use his last name. “It happened really fast. It was like a blink of an eye.”
Carlos remembers the crowd, the noise, the fighting, and then seeing the car wedged into the building after hopping over the curb. He said the car squeezed through a tree and a utility pole.
“The guy just tried to frantically leave but he just got swarmed,” Carlos said.
As police work to sort out the details, they know a few things for sure.
“Someone was injured, and then he left the scene,” said Steve Hegarty of the Tampa Police Department. “There’s property damage. There’s somebody injured. That’s a serious hit and run.”
Longtime patrons of the Bad Monkey are shocked. “Just wow,” Gordon Pustina said. “But like emotionally, like, there’s emotion behind it because you never want to see something like this happen.”
The bar is known for its military decor. The walls are covered with camouflage.
One of the owners is retired from MacDill, after serving in the Air Force and Special Operations for nearly four decades.
“Ybor City’s not a bar district,” Dave Scott told News Channel 8. “It’s a community here and we do pull together. We’re used to a good type of business here, and you hate to see damage of this nature.”
Many of the necessary repairs had been made by Tuesday night. Bad Monkey is once again open for business.