Suspect wanted in fatal shooting at Atlanta strip club

Atlanta police were called to the Blue Flame Lounge on Harwell Road after shots were fired about 1 a.m. Wednesday. (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

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Atlanta police were called to the Blue Flame Lounge on Harwell Road after shots were fired about 1 a.m. Wednesday. (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

Atlanta police have identified a suspect in a Wednesday shooting in a strip club parking lot that killed a man.

Dedric Howard, 25, is wanted on a charge of murder in connection with the shooting that killed Dishawn Marquise Lee Herndon, a 21-year-old man from California. Detectives believe an argument that started inside the Blue Flame Lounge on Harwell Road escalated to gunfire in the parking lot.

Herndon was found outside the northwest Atlanta club when Atlanta police responded about 1 a.m. Wednesday. Lt. Ralph Woolfolk, who commands the department’s homicide unit, said detectives were deployed to the hospital and questioned witnesses at the scene, leading them to identify Howard as a suspect.

“This was a very thorough investigation,” Woolfolk said Friday. “It was very important for our homicide team to remain focused and diligent in this investigation as there was much information coming to us at one time. We were able to stay focused, leading us to today’s outcome.”

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Atlanta police continue to investigate the homicide at the Blue Flame Lounge on Harwell Road.

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

Atlanta police continue to investigate the homicide at the Blue Flame Lounge on Harwell Road.

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

caption arrowCaption
Atlanta police continue to investigate the homicide at the Blue Flame Lounge on Harwell Road.

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

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

Woolfolk said the city’s fugitive unit is now working to apprehend Howard. At the time of Herndon’s death, the shooting was the fourth in one week to involve an Atlanta nightclub but the first to end in a fatality.

The violence started Jan. 22 in the Buckhead nightlife district, where a man and a woman were injured in a shooting outside a Peachtree Road nightclub. Police released still images and surveillance footage of the suspected shooter Friday, and asked for the public’s help in identifying the man.

On Jan. 23, as many as two dozen gunshots were fired in the parking lot of Loca Luna in the Amsterdam Walk retail district, damaging multiple vehicles. A short time later, a man was shot at a gas station on Piedmont Avenue after leaving the Latin restaurant and club. Police believe the two incidents are connected.

The property’s owner terminated Loca Luna’s lease the following day, citing ongoing “unlawful activity.” At least three shootings, one of them fatal, have been reported at the restaurant in the past year.

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On Tuesday morning, police found multiple spent shell casings in the street outside the Chic Restaurant and Lounge on Trinity Avenue. A bystander said a gunman was firing outside the downtown Atlanta club and fled before officers arrived about 4:30 a.m., according to police.

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No one was reported injured. Since November 2020, at least eight people have been shot outside the club and neighboring establishments, and two people have died.

City Councilmember Dustin Hillis, who represents the northwest Atlanta district where the Blue Flame is located, issued a statement Wednesday decrying news that an “innocent bystander” was killed.

“While this violence is unacceptable in any part of our city and must be addressed, clubs and lounges see an inordinate amount of gun-related crime and must be addressed using the tools our city already has at its disposal,” Hillis wrote in his statement.

The councilmember said he asked Atlanta police to look into possible “due cause actions” regarding the strip club’s liquor license. He also requested the solicitor’s office to open an investigation into potential nuisance violations, noting the “multiple murders, aggravated assaults, and other crimes” he said have occurred at the Blue Flame over the past two years.

“I look forward to their work, as we seek to make Atlanta, including its nightlife, safer for all,” the councilmember said.

Anyone with information about Howard’s whereabouts 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.