This article was originally published Feb. 2, 2017.
Almost a year after aspiring rapper Jerome Blake was shot to death in a southwest Atlanta recording studio, his father has filed a lawsuit alleging that inept security played a role in his son’s death.
Blake, 28, was shot April 20 at The Metropolitan, a complex of residential and commercial spaces that takes up a city block at 675 Metropolitan Parkway.
Multiple men entered the facility through an unlocked door one by one, some with handguns. Gunfire erupted, and Blake was killed in the shooting.
One of the men, 27-year-old Nathan Hannon, of Atlanta, was also killed in the shooting.
“We don’t know if (Hannon) was shot accidentally by the other four bad guys or if someone from within the studio returned fire,” Atlanta police Det. Vincent Velazquez said in a press conference at the time. Police circulated surveillance footage of the incident.
Sheldon Dooley has since been charged with felony murder in Blake’s death, according to an Atlanta Police Department spokeswoman this week. She said no other suspects are wanted, and the motive has yet to be determined.
Partick Blake, the administrator of his son’s estate, is suing Candler Warehouses, which "owns, operates, and manages” The Metropolitan. He is also suing Eagle Eye Protection, which "was responsible for providing security and patrols for the premises" and up to 10 unidentified managers, maintenance workers and security personnel, according to the lawsuit.
Security equipment on a gate to the 38-acre complex was not functioning on the night of the attack, the lawsuit says.
The filing alleges the defendants were negligent, failing “to guard Jerome Blake against injury from dangerous characters” since they had reason to “anticipate criminal acts from prior experience with substantially similar types of crimes.”
Patrick Blake’s attorney, Stephen A. Shea, said the case represents a pattern of activity.
As a result of unfettered access to the property — one that is supposed to have security — similar issues have been a continuous problem, Shea said.
Less than eight months after Blake’s death, 23-year-old Joshua Sherrod of Atlanta was found shot to death outside of the same property. That case from December is still an ongoing investigation.
Eagle Eye Protection and The Metropolitan declined to comment.
At a vigil held for Blake after his death, family members expressed dismay at the lack of security.
“How do you allow guns in the studio?” Blake’s cousin, Chyna Barnes, asked in an interview with Channel 2 Action News. “How do you allow so many people...”
Blake’s aunt, Demetris Chappell, said he was a sweet person. If security or police “can’t be there at all time, close ‘em down,” she told the television station.
Blake knew Bankroll Fresh, born Trentavious White, a rising Atlanta rapper who was shot to death at Street Execs Studios a month prior to Blake’s murder.
Chappell said the two had been best friends since they were kids.
In an online interview posted in July, fellow rapper No Plug admitted he shot Bankroll, claiming self-defense.
In early August, Channel 2 reported the district attorney's office had received the full investigative file from police and planned to reach a decision on any criminal charges in Bankroll Fresh’s shooting within 120 days.
That case is still under investigation, according to spokesman for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.