Homicide victim Jaime Sanabria with his son, E’maiJ
Homicide victim Jaime Sanabria with his son, E'maiJ (Submited)

Jaime Sanabria died being a peacemaker, police said -- shot in the back at close range during a bar brawl.

"He was trying to break the fight up," York City Police Capt. Russ Tschopp said. "And he got killed for his trouble."

A single bullet pierced his back and ripped into his chest while he was in George's Tavern, 376 Walnut St., according to the captain, who supervises the city detective bureau.

Called "Butter" by his friends, the 25-year-old Sanabria clung to life for nearly 4-1/2 hours before dying at York Hospital, officials said.

Sanabria was at the bar when he saw a confrontation brewing, so he tried to smooth over the situation, according to police.

Halim "Budda" Bowen
Halim "Budda" Bowen

But he was unable to stop fists from flying, and the fight quickly exploded into a large brawl on the dance floor, according to Tschopp.

'Disrespect': "It started over what gets more people killed in this city than anything else," Tschopp said. "'Disrespect.'"

Police allege the victim was shot by Halim "Budda" Bowen, 23, of 222 E. Philadelphia St., Apt. 6. A homicide warrant has been obtained for Bowen, who police said should be considered armed and dangerous.

Bowen arrived at George's Tavern five or 10 minutes before the shooting and told a bar employee, "I have business to take care of in there," according to his arrest affidavit, which does not say what that "business" might have been.

He breezed past the tavern's bouncers, who were checking patrons for weapons, police said.

Bowen, who was wearing a New Orleans Jazz hat, was dancing on the dance floor when the brawl made its way there and he joined in, according to police.

Victim on floor: Sanabria wound up lying on the floor during the melee, with Bowen on top of him, Tschopp said.

It appears that's when Sanabria was shot at close range -- so close there were burn marks around his gunshot wound, the affidavit states.

A patron died inside George’s Tavern, 376 Walnut St. in York City, after being shot in the back at close range during a bar brawl on Aug. 17, 2013,
A patron died inside George's Tavern, 376 Walnut St. in York City, after being shot in the back at close range during a bar brawl on Aug. 17, 2013, police said. (John A. Pavoncello)

"The subject in the 'Jazz' hat then appears to put something in his right hip area, step over the victim and make his way towards the exit," according to the affidavit.

Before he could leave, Bowen was grabbed just feet from the door and beaten up, Tschopp said.

Security video from George's Tavern, as well as statements from witnesses, helped detectives identify Bowen as Sanabria's alleged killer, Tschopp said.

Bowen was later overheard making the statement that the bullet "wasn't meant for that boy, it was meant for someone else," according to the affidavit.

Prior gun charge: In April 2012, Bowen pleaded guilty to discharging a firearm into an occupied structure, according to court records. In exchange, other charges were dismissed and he was sentenced to 11½ to 23 months in prison.

According to court documents, Bowen was in his former apartment at 115 S. Duke St. about 10:15 a.m. Nov. 7, 2011, and was firing a .22-caliber rifle out his living-room window.

Bowen and another man fired about 20 bullets, most of which struck a wall outside, documents state.

Baby inside: Three men outside were endangered by the gunfire, police said.

Also, Bowen's live-in girlfriend at the time and her 10-month old child were inside the apartment when the shots were fired, documents state.

Anyone with information about Bowen's whereabouts is urged to call city detectives at 849-2219, or call the city's anonymous crime tip line, (717) 849-2204. Or anonymously text a tip to YORKTIPS at 847411.

- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at levans@yorkdispatch.com.