Byron Williams, the man who allegedly triggered a massive gunfight
on I-580 yesterday, shutting down the highway all day, is now facing a lifetime in prison -- if he survives.
But back in his hometown of Groveland, Calif.
, they remember him differently. He's the guy who got into a fistfight at the Iron Door Saloon and was banished from the only bar in town.
In tiny Groveland, a mountain town of not quite 5,000 people, life seems to center around the Iron Door Saloon. The bar, which claims to be the oldest continually operating saloon in the state, is smackdab in the middle of town. Every local goes there. "It's pretty much the only thing to do," notes co-owner Corinna Loh. Like Cheers, it's a place where everybody knows your name.
But not everybody likes
Loh confirms that neither Williams nor his mother were frequent customers. But Williams had an excuse -- he was banned from entering following an incident last year when he got into a physical confrontation with one of the saloon's bartenders.
"The got into it here and went and fought somewhere else," said Loh. Her husband, Chris, banned Williams from the bar -- and recognized his picture when it showed up on television yesterday.
Loh didn't recall what precipitated the fight. The bartender in question no longer works at the saloon. Loh said this fight wasn't the reason for his departure -- and that night was Williams' first and last trip to the Iron Door Saloon.
Williams is a twice-convicted felon driving on a suspended license with an arrest
assault, property destruction, a DUI, hit and
run, and theft. And, yes, he was allegedly driving drunk prior to
yesterday's shootout. Records obtained from Seattle/King County by SF Weekly reveal convictions for hit and run; DUI; theft; and property destruction during Williams' time in Washington State in the 1980s and '90s.
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