Man escorted off property when he returns to club
ELYRIA — A war veteran was ousted again from the Elyria Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1079 on Wednesday.
Just after 8 p.m. Wednesday, a handful of Elyria police officers escorted Korean War veteran Richard Bungard, 75, from the South Abbe Road veterans’ organization.
The ousting came in the wake of a weeks-long battle that Bungard said he’s been fighting with post commanders, whom he says are retaliating against him for reporting smoking violations at the club.
Wednesday’s incident was the second time the club has kicked him out, Bungard said, and the third time they refused to serve him.
Bungard said that he told Post Commander John Victor on June 15 that he had reported the smoking violations, and the club’s employees refused to serve him any drinks that day.
Bungard said he tried to return to the club June 20 and was kicked out.
Victor, who couldn’t be reached Wednesday for comment, said last week that Bungard had overreacted and had only been suspended for
30 days after that incident because he yelled at a bartender.
On Wednesday, he returned to the club with his daughter — Susan Bungard, an attorney — because he figured the 30-day suspension was up.
But Bungard and his daughter said they walked into the building just after 8 p.m. and were greeted by a few hellos and a lot of cold glares.
“I walked in, and walked up to the table to sign the books and sign in,” Bungard said.
“Several people said hello, but there was a chill in the air,” said Susan Bungard. “Everybody was looking at him. Some were friendly, but most of them didn’t speak to him.”
Within a minute of their arrival, about four to five Elyria police cruisers showed up.
“The police came in, and they said I’d been indefinitely suspended until this matter is resolved,” Bungard said. “I am pissed off, and I am going to sue them sons of guns.”
Susan Bungard said she was certain that police were going to handcuff her father, so she urged him to simply exit the building and leave, which he did with little fanfare.
“I don’t think we have any choice but to sue them at this point,” she said.
The matter is a “civil situation,” and club officials called police because they wanted Bungard to leave, said Elyria police Lt. Andy Eichenlaub, adding that police would have arrested Bungard for criminal trespassing if he hadn’t left.
A national VFW spokesman said last week that members’ suspension are supposed to be cleared at the VFW’s state and national levels, but there wasn’t any documentation that could be found on Bungard’s case.
State law prohibits smoking in private clubs and public bars, and any retaliation taken against patrons who report smoking violations can result in a $1,000 fine for the person who retaliated.
While the Elyria Health Department is still investigating complaints against the South Abbe Road VFW post, Bungard and his daughter said they’ll take legal action if the matter isn’t resolved in the next 30 days.
Contact Shawn Foucher at 329-7197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.