Marine vet who was shot 10 times in Oakland bar sues, alleging negligence

A Marine Corps veteran, who was shot multiple times inside an Oakland bar, is suing the bar owners, the building owner, the City of Oakland and the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, accusing all of them of negligence. 

Mahmoud Berte says it was his friend's birthday, so they were celebrating at the Gallery Art Bar on 14th Street on August 16, 2021.

"It was my first time going to Oakland," said Berte.

About an hour later around 1 a.m., Berte says, as he walked out of the restroom he heard gunshots inside the bar.

"I turned around to see where the sound was coming from, and then I remember everything going black," said Berte.

Berte says he got four bullet holes in his right leg, was shot three times in the stomach and received three bullet holes in his left leg, which had to be amputated.

One shot hit an artery, and he says doctors at Highland Hospital told his family and fiancée Tessa they weren't sure he would live.

"I was in a coma for about a month. Approximately a month and I was in the hospital for more than five months," said Berte.

"I had to stay strong for him, so I tried not to cry by his bedside, because I felt like he would sense it," said Tessa Reiter, Berte's fiancée.

Berte says he'd moved to San Francisco with his fiancée to start a new life together. He had served in the Marine Corps, received three medals, and was enrolling in City College of San Francisco to pursue a degree in economics. The walls of their apartment show pictures of his life before the shooting, full of love, hope, and the possibility of a bright future.

Berte says in all his years in military service, he had never been shot.

"I'm in the Marine Corps. I served my term, and then I leave to get shot up.  You know, it's just crazy. Why?" said Berte, "Every day this haunts me. I try to stay strong. But every day there's somebody out there who could be hurting somebody else."

Now, Berte is facing more surgeries to repair his abdominal muscles. He says he has an artificial artery and must take medications for the rest of his life. He struggles with getting a correct prosthetic limb for his left leg. He is the oldest of nine children and says he is trying to stay strong for his parents, his siblings, and his fiancée. 

One of his brothers set up a GoFundMe donation page to try and help cover all the expenses and rent that Berte is facing as he recovers.

The shock, however, of how quickly his life has changed is still sinking in.

"I'm a human being. I served this country. I deserve justice," said Berte.

He says police have not found the shooter.

His attorneys say they are still reviewing evidence and filed an amendment Sept. 8 to the original lawsuit filed in January 2022. The lawsuit alleges that the bar did not have safety measures in place.

"They were hiring security guards that weren't licensed or bonded. They didn't have permanent addresses, things that show inexperience at hiring security guards in a high crime area," said Richard Richardson, Berte's attorney, "There were no metal detectors based on what we know of to this point, and there should be hand-held wands."

KTVU has not received independent confirmation whether the security guards that night were licensed.

KTVU reached out to the building's owner Jane Yoon, as well as the other defendants listed in the lawsuit, including Brett Bardelle and Julian Fabian with the Gallery Art Bar.  Bardelle returned the phone call and said he would like to respond but needs to check with his attorney Friday before making any statement. 

The City Attorney's office in Oakland replied in a voicemail message, but KTVU was unable to connect for a comment Thursday.

The Department Of Alcoholic Beverage Control spokesman said he couldn't comment on a pending lawsuit, but did reply to our public records requests.

Documents from the ABC Department show that the Gallery Art Bar was required to have two licensed security guards on the premises.

A state ABC investigator did recommend suspension of the Gallery Art Bar's license due to violations of noise restriction requirements. A state ABC investigation also showed that Oakland Police had been to the bar at least seven times in the month prior to the shooting for noise complaints and a verbal fight.

Berte said he did not know the shooter or have any altercation with the shooter. Documents show the night of the shooting, the Gallery Art Bar had a cash box stolen with $1,500 inside.

"They said they don't have no camera footage inside the bar. How do you have a whole bar, and you don't have no cameras in there?" said Berte, "Every day this haunts me. I try to stay strong. But every day there's somebody out there who could be hurting somebody else."

"Money is not going to bring anything back. It's not going to heal what I'm going through," said Berte. 

"I want accountability and justice you know. I haven't gotten a sorry, none of that. Nobody reached out to me and apologized, nothing. You know? Some humanity. It's like people lost humanity. We became so desensitized to crime. I want people to realize this is real. That people are getting affected by this," said Berte.

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED: A GoFundMe has been created to help with medical expenses. 

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at jana.katsuyama@fox.com and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.