Bartenders remember bouncer’s final moments
It started just before last call, about 10 minutes to two, early Saturday morning. Terie Colecchi, 49, the big-hearted bouncer at Pats II Cocktails at 1312 S. Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach, was sweeping cigarette butts away from the front door of the bar, preparing to close for the night.
Kristen, one of two bartenders working the evening shift, said she realized something was wrong when she and her co-worker heard a commotion outside. Karen, the other bartender, ran outside and, she said, saw Colecchi on the ground with one man standing over his body throwing punches, while the other kicked him repeatedly in the head. The same men had attempted to enter the bar just minutes before, Karen said. Both women requested that their last names be withheld.
Karen ran inside immediately and shouted for someone to call 911.
Earlier, she had seen Colecchi turn the two men away at the door.
“I could just tell by their body movement that something wasn’t right. I went back to the bar and looked at the monitor and could see the fight. I ran outside and saw Terie on the ground unconscious.”
Karen pushed the man who was on top of Colecchi and started screaming. Kristen dropped what she was doing and ran outside.
“What the f— did you do to him?” Kristen yelled at the two men.
According to Kristen, the men took a step back from Colecchi. “Everyone was in shock,” she said. Then the men ran to a white, 2003 Audi and drove off. Kirsten shouted the license plate over and over again until Karen wrote it on a napkin.
“I looked at Terie and just panicked,” Karen said. “He was laid out and there was blood everywhere. It felt like it took forever for the paramedics to get there – but then again, minutes like that feel like forever.”
Colecchi, who was nicknamed “Terr Bear,” by because of his kind heart and sweet demeanor, was reportedly a seven-year employee of Pats II Cocktails, and a well-known figure in the area. “He was not just a bouncer; he was a friend and a family member,” Kristin said. “He was a big guy with a soft spirit; he was super friendly and had a good sense of humor. He would go above and beyond for any of us.”
Even though the security cameras were unable to record what was being said during the moments leading up to the assault, Kristen is certain Colecchi’s instincts were right.
“There was a reason he didn’t want them in,” Kristen said. “He was just protecting us.”
“He was always the sweet guy that was the peacemaker,” said Michelle, a friend and regular at the bar, who also declined to give her last name. “He was part of the bar; I don’t know if it will ever be the same, I don’t know if I’ll feel safe there now because he’s not there. He just always had our back.”
“To be quite honest,” Kristen said, “it was the most disturbing thing I’ve seen in my whole life… there was nothing we could do for him, all I could do was comfort him. People were standing around and there was nothing we could do but try to stop the bleeding.”
Kristen knelt down and held Colecchi’s head and attempted to stop the bleeding with a white towel from the bar that quickly turned red. “I remember saying, “Terie hang on, hang on, hang on…’”
When the paramedics arrived, Colecchi’s face was unrecognizable. According to Kristen, the paramedics tried to save him for 20 minutes and eventually moved him to a local hospital where he died from blunt force trauma.
“If he would have survived he would probably be brain damaged,” Kristen said. “I don’t know how anybody is capable of doing that to somebody. It wasn’t a fair fight at all. If somebody is down, you stop – you don’t keep going and going and going.”
The following morning, Kristen and the other employees watched the surveillance video recorded by one of 14 cameras in the bar. The video showed one of the suspects kick Colecci in the head nine times and the other suspect hit him in the face while he was on the ground.
Redondo police found the Audi later that morning in the South Redondo back yard of a friend of Francisco “Frank Cobarruivas, 35. An arrest warrant has been issued for Cobarruivas, who is still at large.
“We were watching the location and he just happened to drive by,” Redondo Beach Police Sgt. Fabian Saucedo said.
Avina was held over the weekend at the Redondo Police Department jail on $1 million bail and was scheduled to appear for arraignment in the Torrance Courthouse on Tuesday. However, police released him Monday evening.
According to a Daily Breeze report, Avina claims he was asleep at his home in Carson at the time of Colecchi’s beating. Avina’s mother corroborated her son’s alibi, according to the Daily Breeze story.
“At this time, I don’t see Avina as a danger to the public,” Redondo Beach Sgt. Shawn Freeman said. It’s not uncommon, he explained, for police to release a suspect pending further investigation.
Kristen said Cobarruivas was a part-time regular at the bar.
“He seemed like a nice guy,” said Kristen. “He was mellow and always came by himself. He usually had two beers at the most, maybe a shot and would leave. Just the fact that he had someone else with him we didn’t know… It was just weird.”
She also remembers the Audi being halfway parked on the sidewalk.
“If he was trying to come into the bar, then why was there a car waiting for him? There are just a lot of weird details. My first reaction was to get all the info we could immediately,” Kristen said.
Flowers and letters commemorating Colecchi have been placed at the entrance to Pats II Cocktails. Employees and patrons shuffle in-and-out of the bar, subdued and mournful.
“We’re all sad and we’re going to miss him,” Kristen said. “I came into work last night just trying to keep my mind busy. It was just eerie and sad. I thought it would be good to be around people who loved him as much as I did… It sucks because there’s always the ‘what if’…’What could have been different?’ But there’s nothing anyone could do. It happened in a matter of seconds and we reacted [with] tunnel vision.”
Cobarruivas is described as Hispanic, 30 to 35 years of age, 5-foot-8, around 180 lbs. He has black hair and had his hair in a ponytail. Police do not believe he knew the victim and police do not believe the incident was gang related. According to police, Cobarruivas is a single father with three kids ranging from three to 11-years-old. Authorities believe he is driving a black, 4-door, 1999 BMW 528i with chrome rims and the California license plate 4GTT805. He is believed to be traveling with his children. Police think they could be in the Wilmington area near Banning High School, where Cobarruivas has family.
“At this point we want him to come to his senses and turn himself in,” said Saucedo. “We are not sure where he is but we do need the public’s help [finding him].”
A benefit concert for Colecchi will be held June 14 at Brixton South Bay on the Pier, starting at 7 p.m. The event will include a raffle with prizes and services donated by local businesses to help pay for funeral expenses and to help Colecchi’s young son. The suggested door donation is $20.
Redondo Beach police are still requesting the public’s assistance with information
Persons with information regarding the regarding the fatal fight or the whereabouts of Cobarruivas and asked to call the Redondo Police tip line at (310) 937-6685 or text (310) 339-2362.
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