It could have ended far worse than it did: moments after midnight Sunday morning, Connor Patrick Anderson, a patron at Smiles, the Palm Coast bar, got angry with his girlfriend, allegedly pulled a gun at another patron, threatened her and started shooting inside the pub even as other patrons and the bartender attempted to subdue him. Anderson ran out after firing off a half dozen rounds.
Somehow, no one was hit.
Anderson, a 30-year-old resident of 22 Clearview Court in palm Coast, was arrested and faces a dozen charges, including numerous felony charges of aggravated assault and shooting inside a dwelling.
Anderson’s anger was traced back to a moment earlier that night when he and his girlfriend were at the bowling alley, where he got into a fight with another patron there. His girlfriend convinced him to leave, and both went to Smiles Nite Club, on Palm Harbor Way. But Anderson’s anger persisted. Once at the bar, he demanded to have the keys to his truck.
There various accounts as to what happened next. In one account, his girlfriend went to the bathroom, heard a gunshot, and when she came out, found Anderson held down on the ground by patrons before he freed himself and ran out, but not before shooting several times into the bar.
In another account, after his girlfriend went to the bathroom, Anderson went outside and back in with a gun and held a woman at gunpoint and in a chokehold. The woman was able to maneuver herself out of his grip as David Ghiloni, the bartender, jumped over the bar and tackled Anderson to the ground with other patrons helping, saving the woman.
Surveillance footage from Smiles, released today, shows the violence of the incident–Anderson attacking a woman at the bar, apparently unprovoked, then the bartender and patrons coming to her defense, and ensuing struggles:
Anderson managed to free himself, got up, waved the gun around–a 9mm Glock–and fired it before running out. He was hiding in woods nearby as Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies searched for him, having established a perimeter in the area. Deputies found him in a ditch along Old Kings Road, the gun near him. John’s Towing took possession of the Ford F-150 truck.
Six 9mm casings were found inside the bar, which was shut down for the rest of that night as detectives investigated.
“It is amazing this dirtbag did not kill or seriously injure anyone during his moment of rage over something as small as his car keys. Violence is never the answer and alcohol and guns never mix well,” Sheriff Rick Staly was quoted as saying in a release. “I also commend the patrons that intervened and immediately called us. Putting themselves in danger in this case saved many lives.”
Anderson is being held on $542,000 bond at the county jail.
The incident was reminiscent of a similar incident at a European Village bar in march 2014, when a patron, Daniel Noble, got into an argument with other patrons, went home, changed into fatigues, retrieved an Uzi-stile assault weapon and and a pair of knives, and returned, brandishing the firearm at the people he’d argued with before they subdued him. He managed to fire two shots, not hitting anyone. Noble, a veteran, had faced 35 years in prison. He was sentenced to seven years on probation. His probation was terminated on Feb. 2, 2021.