After twice approaching a group of bar patrons at Bobby Van's and twice being turned away on Thursday night, 51-year-old Darren Gagnon, of Shirley, went up to the group a third time and punched one of the patrons in the face and head, according to Southampton Town police.
Det. Sgt. Lisa Costa said Monday that Gagnon wanted to have words with someone he knew, but the group repeatedly told him to go away. After going to the other end of the bar for a while, Gagnon returned a third time, and, Costa said, that's when he assaulted a member of the group who he did not know before that night.
The arrest report states that police responded to the Bridgehampton bar and restaurant at 5:58 p.m. for a crime-in-progress. At 6:25 p.m., Gagnon, a retired sergeant with the Southampton Village Police Department, was charged with assault in the third degree, a misdemeanor, and taken to Southampton Town police headquarters for processing.
Costa said that the nature of the incident and the injuries was consistent with a misdemeanor assault charge. Gagnon was released that night, but is due in Southampton Town Justice Court on Feb. 27 to answer the charge.
Police said the victim, a Bridgehampton man, was taken to Southampton Hospital for treatment of his injuries. Police did not confirm the victim's name or the extent of his injuries. When Patch reached a hospital room on Friday believed to have been the victim's, a woman who answered the phone said he has no comment.
Reached Friday, Gagnon said that, on the advice of his attorney, he has no comment. Gagnon's attorney did not return multiple messages.
The incident occurred exactly one year and one day after Gagnon's retirement, which followed 25 years with the Southampton Village Police Department.
Gagnon was meeting at Bobby Van's with other police officers, current and former, to take William Wilson out to dinner for his own retirement from law enforcement, which took effect Dec. 1, 2012. Wilson had been a chief of both the Southampton Village and Southampton Town police departments.
Wilson said Friday morning that the incident occurred just 15 to 20 seconds after he walked into the restaurant. "I have no idea what precipitated it," he said, adding that he never had a chance to speak to Gagnon. He said other patrons at the bar broke the men apart.
Wilson never got his dinner.