Owners terminate Loca Luna’s lease after latest gunfire incident

Multiple vehicles were damaged by bullets Sunday night when gunfire rang out in the parking lot of Loca Luna on Amsterdam Avenue. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

Multiple vehicles were damaged by bullets Sunday night when gunfire rang out in the parking lot of Loca Luna on Amsterdam Avenue. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Popular Midtown Atlanta restaurant Loca Luna was asked to cease operations following a weekend shooting that damaged multiple vehicles and sent diners running for cover.

Cellphone video captured chaos outside the Amsterdam Avenue restaurant Sunday night as nearly two dozen gunshots were fired in the parking lot. The video, shared by ATL Uncensored on Twitter, shows people screaming and ducking behind cars. A short time later, one person was shot at a gas station on Piedmont Avenue, about a mile north of Loca Luna.

Atlanta police said they believe the two incidents are connected.

Credit: WSBTV Videos

Gunfire rings out in Atlanta restaurant parking lot, person shot at nearby gas station

“Investigators are gathering suspect information at this time and are working to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident,” a police spokesperson said in a statement. “The investigation continues.”

It was at least the third incident of gun violence at Loca Luna in the past year, coming three months after a shooting in the parking lot that claimed a man’s life. On Monday, the property group that operates the Amsterdam Walk retail district terminated the Latin restaurant’s lease.

“We have worked with the owners of Loca Luna in good faith regarding prior incidences at their restaurant,” said Stacy Schuch, marketing director for Atlanta-based Halpern Enterprises. “Unfortunately, the unlawful activity has continued.”

According to a police report released Tuesday, the shooting started inside the restaurant about 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Witnesses reported hearing at least two shots inside and more than 20 in the parking lot.

A manager said he saw two women fighting inside the restaurant before the shooting started, according to the report. Other witnesses described at least two male shooters, including one with what appeared to be an assault rifle.

Multiple vehicles were damaged by the gunfire, but no one was reported injured, police said. One vehicle, a Honda Accord, was riddled with 32 bullet holes.

A car with multiple bullet holes could be seen Monday morning parked outside an Atlanta Ballet studio on Amsterdam Avenue, located across the street from Loca Luna.

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

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Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

About 10:50 p.m., a man was found shot in the leg at a BP station on Piedmont Avenue. He told police he drove away from Loca Luna after his BMW took gunfire, and he stopped at the gas station to change a flat tire. At that point, a red Dodge Durango pulled up beside him and someone opened fire, according to the report.

The victim was stable when he was taken to a hospital.

Last year, Atlanta police investigated two other shootings at Loca Luna.

A woman was shot in the foot in March while she was dining outside. She told police she heard a single shot before realizing she was injured, and she was unaware of any fights or arguments in the area at the time.

In October, a man was shot and killed after discovering a teenage suspect leaning against his sports car in the parking lot. Authorities have accused 18-year-old Brian Calderon Betancourt of killing 23-year-old Andres Munoz after Munoz confronted him. The Acworth man was shot once in the chest and died at a hospital.

In a statement, Halpern Enterprises said “the safety and well-being of our patrons and tenants is our top priority.” The owners of Loca Luna have agreed to cease operations and remove their possessions, the statement said.

Calls to Loca Luna’s management and the restaurant’s main phone line were not returned Tuesday. A message on their website says the restaurant is temporarily closed and a new location is coming soon.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.