Tony Vartanian, Manager at Prana Nightclub, Killed by Cop

September 06, 2008

Plain clothes officer kills Club Prana bouncer, 35

TAMPA — A plain clothes officer shot and killed a Club Prana bouncer who refused two orders to drop a gun early Saturday morning, Tampa police say.

According to spokeswoman Laura McElroy, this is what happened:

At 1:22 a.m., two Orlando men were kicked out of Club Prana, 1619 E Seventh Ave., for banging on the walls of the bar. Officer Rick Harrell and his partner were in an unmarked van patrolling the area around Seventh Avenue. They heard Roobik Vartanian, of 1611 E Sixth Avenue in Tampa, arguing with the men, shouting racial slurs at them and threatening to kill them.

The officers, members of the Street Anti Crime Unit, got out of their car on Sixth Avenue and noticed that Vartanian, 35, was armed with a gun he grabbed from another Club Prana employee. Officer Harrell ordered him to drop the weapon two times, but Vartanian turned and pointed the gun at Harrell.

The officer fired his gun, striking Vartanian in the stomach. He was taken to Tampa General Hospital where he died. Harrell was placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure. His partner and the two men involved in the argument were not injured.

Vartanian did not have a concealed weapons permit and had previously been arrested on six felonies.

Until recently, he lived in Jacksonville, where he helped law enforcement officials bust an ecstasy ring in 2003.

— Rodney Thrash, Times Staff Writer

I want to clarify the story on the Tampabay.com website. Tony Vartanian was a manager at the nightclub Prana. There was an altercation in the club last night around one o’clock in the morning, where two  black men were kicked out of the club for acting like a couple of jackasses.

Tony and other employees followed the guys out of the club to the back where the two black men taunted Tony by saying his address. Tony lived close by, where his little 3-year-old daughter was with a babysitter.  Tony followed the men to make sure his daughter was safe. Tony had a gun but he did not point it at anyone.

Our security at the club carry guns, to protect themselves, to protect the other employees and to protect innocent people from freaking jerks.

An undercover cop saw the situation and came out of his  unmarked vehicle yelling at Tony to drop his gun. Tony pointed the gun at the undercover cop and the cop shot Tony in the stomach. The undercover cop never stated who he was. He murdered Tony.

I talked to the parking lot attendant who was only a few feet away from the scene. She said he just shot him down and never once did the officer address himself.

Only a few minutes later, six police cars come wailing through the streets of Ybor. Police officers ran to Tony and tried to revive him. About 2 minutes later, a fire truck arrived.  Five minutes later, an ambulance followed. They brought him to Tampa General where he died.

I received the call at 7:32am this morning telling me Tony was dead.

Funeral arrangements will be held at Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home, Jacksonville Beach. Visitation will be on September 9, 2008 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Burial will be on September 10, 2008 at 2 p.m. at Greenlawn Cemetery, 4300 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville.

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Published in: on September 6, 2008 at 10:18 pm  Comments (8)  
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