Atlanta looks to shut down hookah lounge after rash of shootings

February 2, 2022 Atlanta: A security guard was shot and killed Wednesday morning, Feb. 2,2022  when he was asked to escort a man from a downtown Atlanta bar, police said. The 28-year-old guard was found with at least one gunshot wound when Atlanta police were called to the Encore Hookah Bar on Luckie Street shortly after midnight, according to the police department. He later died at Grady Memorial Hospital. Homicide unit commander Lt. Ralph Woolfolk said the guard was asked to remove the shooter from the bar, and the two got into a fight outside. Investigators don’t know why the man was booted from the bar, Woolfolk told Channel 2 Action News from the scene. The guard’s name was not released. The deadly shooting comes after a violent week in Atlanta that took police to six other bars or nightclubs to investigate gunfire. Two people were killed and eight were injured in the six shootings between Jan. 22 and Jan. 29. The shooter in Wednesday’s incident was gone by the time police arrived, and he has not been identified. Police released photos of a suspect and are asking for the public’s help to identify him. The photos appear to be stills from surveillance footage. Anyone with information about his identity is asked to contact police. Tipsters can remain anonymous, and be eligible for rewards of up to $2,000, by contacting Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477, texting information to 274637 or visiting the Crime Stoppers website. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

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February 2, 2022 Atlanta: A security guard was shot and killed Wednesday morning, Feb. 2,2022 when he was asked to escort a man from a downtown Atlanta bar, police said. The 28-year-old guard was found with at least one gunshot wound when Atlanta police were called to the Encore Hookah Bar on Luckie Street shortly after midnight, according to the police department. He later died at Grady Memorial Hospital. Homicide unit commander Lt. Ralph Woolfolk said the guard was asked to remove the shooter from the bar, and the two got into a fight outside. Investigators don’t know why the man was booted from the bar, Woolfolk told Channel 2 Action News from the scene. The guard’s name was not released. The deadly shooting comes after a violent week in Atlanta that took police to six other bars or nightclubs to investigate gunfire. Two people were killed and eight were injured in the six shootings between Jan. 22 and Jan. 29. The shooter in Wednesday’s incident was gone by the time police arrived, and he has not been identified. Police released photos of a suspect and are asking for the public’s help to identify him. The photos appear to be stills from surveillance footage. Anyone with information about his identity is asked to contact police. Tipsters can remain anonymous, and be eligible for rewards of up to $2,000, by contacting Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477, texting information to 274637 or visiting the Crime Stoppers website. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Stray bullets entered aquarium’s dolphin enclosure, court filing states

The city of Atlanta is looking to shutter a downtown hookah lounge following a spate of shootings over the past two years, at least three of which were fatal.

In a complaint filed last week, the city alleged Encore Hookah Bar & Bistro “attracts an influx of criminal activity” to the area and asked a judge to grant an injunction declaring the property a “public nuisance.”

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The bar is located on Luckie Street near the Georgia Aquarium. The complaint alleges several stray bullets entered the aquarium’s dolphin enclosure during a September 17, 2021, shooting that left one man injured after a brawl. Five dolphins housed inside the habitat had to be temporarily relocated so the aquarium’s dive team could remove shattered glass from the enclosure, according to the filing.

“This incident was extremely disturbing to the staff at the Georgia Aquarium,” the complaint reads. “Had there been a trainer on site at the time of the shooting, there is a high probability that he or she could have been seriously injured.”

The aquarium was struck by gunfire again earlier this month when a group of women shot into the air following an argument with the bar’s owner, according to the city’s complaint.

Since February 2020, Atlanta police have responded to at least 171 calls for service at the lounge “concerning violent criminal activity,” including homicides, shootings, larceny from vehicles, disorderly conduct and aggravated assault, the filing alleges.

Explore2 sought in fatal shooting outside downtown Atlanta hookah lounge

A 29-year-old DeKalb County man was killed outside Encore in January 2021 after someone got out of a car and shot him in the street, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. Investigators have offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in DeAndre’ Houston’s killing.

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DeAndre' Houston

Credit: Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home

DeAndre' Houston

Credit: Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home

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DeAndre' Houston

Credit: Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home

Credit: Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home

Last month, a 28-year-old security guard was fatally shot after he was asked to escort a man from the bar. The guard, identified as Tyshon Ross, died from his injuries at Grady Memorial Hospital.

ExploreSecurity guard fatally shot at downtown Atlanta bar

After Ross’ shooting, the real estate group that manages the property confirmed it is in eviction proceedings with the hookah bar’s owner.

Habif Properties first notified the business in September that their lease would be terminated over concerns of “criminal incidents occurring outside Encore Hookah,” the Atlanta-based company said in a statement. The business agreed to vacate by Dec. 23 but is still occupying the property as a “holdover tenant.”

The company is listed as a defendant in the city’s complaint, along with the bar’s owner and its manager, court records show.

“We are aware of the motion for a temporary restraining order brought by the city of Atlanta against Encore Lounge, which is continuing to occupy this property,” Habif Properties said Monday. “We are continuing our legal efforts to evict Encore Lounge from the property and will fully comply with the city of Atlanta in our shared goal of removing this tenant as soon as permitted by law.”

The complaint also outlines several other shootings, including an Oct. 25, 2021, incident in which an off-duty officer working a part-time job as a parking attendant was shot in the face. The officer returned fire, killing the man who shot him. And last May, two bystanders were injured when someone fired between 25 and 30 shots at the lounge.

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The spike in shootings has left employees and guests of the nearby Hyatt Place Atlanta Centennial Park on high alert, the complaint alleges. The hotel’s armed security guards are “currently required to wear body armor for their own safety and protection.”