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A shooting, then another, at a storied Holmesburg tavern

Northeast Philly residents - and police - are scratching their heads over a pair of shootings at a popular taproom.

McGeehan's Rock Bottom Bar
McGeehan's Rock Bottom BarRead more

McGEEHAN'S Rock Bottom Bar was founded in 1929, during that dark chapter in American history known as Prohibition.

You think a few bullets are going to keep customers away?

Of course the Holmesburg taproom was open for business yesterday after a booze-fueled evening that everyone seems eager to forget. Just knock on the temporary plywood door, they'll buzz you in. Don't mind the bullet hole in the window.

Cops went to McGeehan's, on Cottage Street near Cottman Avenue, at 12:03 a.m. yesterday, responding to a report of gunshots - a rare occurrence in the section of the city where Holmesburg, Mayfair and Tacony converge.

Witnesses said that a man had been kicked out of the bar for arguing with his 27-year-old girlfriend. Several minutes later, someone started firing through the bar's glass door, striking a 23-year-old man in the arm. Another bullet hit a mirror near the bartender. The shooter took off before police arrived.

Then, as police were processing the crime scene, a guy pulled up with a .45-caliber Kimber in his waistband and a .380-caliber Sig Sauer in his hand. This was not the first shooter but a different drunk guy, according to police.

He popped off a round in the area where cops and witnesses were standing, according to Officer Christine O'Brien, a police spokeswoman.

"You don't put your finger on the trigger unless you know you're pretty close to wanting to fire it," O'Brien said. "But maybe he did it accidentally."

O'Brien said the man pointed the gun in the officers' direction and initially refused to drop it. A struggle ensued and police were able to get the gun away from him.

A police source identified that man as John McGeehan, 55.

Public records list a John McGeehan of the same age with a former address that matches the bar's address, but it was unclear last night what connection he has to the business. Tax records show that the bar is owned by Patrick McGeehan, who could not be reached.

Cops were still trying to sort out the mess yesterday, but a police source said that it appears that John McGeehan grabbed his guns and headed to the bar after hearing about the first shooting. A 21-year-old man believed to be the first shooter turned himself in to police, but no charges were announced.

"Of course, you're dealing with intoxicated people all around," the police source said.

McGeehan's, a popular neighborhood watering hole, is not known as a nuisance bar. It's the kind of place where you watch college football while eating a burger with pork roll and Cooper Sharp and drinking the self-described "coldest beer in the city." A place you walk to during a snowstorm. In October, McGeehan's hosted its 35th annual halfball tournament.

No one at McGeehan's felt like talking about the shooting yesterday. When a Daily News reporter stopped in seeking comment, the bartender and a couple of patrons responded, "No."

A piece of paper covered what appeared to be a bullet hole in an application for a take-out-beer permit hanging in the window.

Randy Archer, the block captain on Teesdale Street around the corner, said he heard the gunshots but hadn't yet figured out exactly what went down.

"I've been here eight years and there's never been a shooting," he said. "I'm getting all kinds of calls from people asking what's going on."

Archer said his section of Northeast Philly is generally safe. Not much violent crime.

"At least, it used to be safe," he laughed. "No, it is unusual. Very unusual."