Metro Weekly

3 Killed in Hit-and-Run Outside Chicago Gay Bar

The National Black Justice Coalition has called on police to investigate the incident as a possible hate crime.

Image by Todd Franson. Original photo by Jakob Rosen, via Unsplash.

Chicago police still have no suspects in what they now say appears to have been an intentional hit-and-run that killed three men and injured a fourth outside a popular gay bar in the city’s South Shore neighborhood.

The crash, which was captured on video, shows the driver of a sedan racing down the 7700 block of South Jeffery Boulevard, slamming into several men in front of The Jeffery Pub, one of the oldest and longest continuously running Black gay bars in the nation.

The video, which was taken from a nearby car, shows the men were fighting in the middle of the street around 5 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 14, before being violently hurled into the air after impact, reports Chicago ABC affiliate WLS-TV.

The victims killed in the attack have been identified as 25-year-old South Holland native Donald Huey, who was planning to move back to the area from Los Angeles, 27-year-old Chicago resident Devonta Vivetter, and 23-year-old Jaylen Ausley, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan. All three were transported to a local hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

The other victim was hospitalized in serious condition. No update has been provided on their current status, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

A person inside the bar is suspected of mowing down the three men. No one has been arrested, but authorities have the vehicle they believe was used in the hit-and-run in their possession. That sedan was found abandoned about four blocks from the site of the hit-and-run.

While police say the hit-and-run appears to have been intentional, they don’t currently have any evidence to support the idea that it was motivated by bias or hatred due to the victims’ identity or other protected status, Chicago Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan told reporters on Monday. As such, the crime is not yet being investigated as a hate crime.

The investigation remains ongoing, according to police.

“There were a lot of people out there, a lot of people that were inside the bar prior to this occurring,” Deenihan said. “And we definitely believe that there’s individuals who actually want to give us that information to name a suspect.”

Some of the victims’ family members questioned how the dispute got out of hand, spilling out of the club and into the street.

“Why [weren’t] the police called?” Charna Riley, Huey’s sister, asked the Sun-Times. “Why wasn’t the security breaking up the fight? I have questions that I need answered. I guess it’s a process, so I’m waiting. But I do need justice for my brother. And those other [victims], I’m pretty sure their family members want justice as well.”

The National Black Justice Coalition, the nation’s leading Black LGBTQ civil rights organization, called the hit-and-run a “tragic, apparent act of targeted violence” and called on police to investigate the incident as a hate crime. 

“It is incumbent upon the Chicago Police Department to investigate this attack as more than just a triple homicide and attempted murder, but also as a potential hate crime,” Dr. David Johns, the executive director of NBJC, said in a statement. “Chicago is experiencing a wave of violence against LGBTQ+ people, specifically Black LGBTQ+ [and same-gender-loving] people — that the police are simply not taking seriously.”

Johns noted that there have been at least seven murders of Black trans women in the Chicago area over the past two years. All of those cases remain unsolved.

“We are owed equal protection under the law — and we demand that the law enforcement community treat attacks against us with the urgency and seriousness we deserve.”

Victoria Kirby York, NBJC’s deputy executive director, added that police should not be quick to dismiss the idea that the hit-and-run could have been motivated by bias or hatred.

“We do know and law enforcement often are resistant to filing hate crimes charges because there’s a very high burden of proof that has to be met,” she told WLS-TV. “We also know that the person who slaughtered 49 people at the Pulse nightclub was a visitor at the nightclub several times before that massacre, and I was there in the aftermath of that attack. And so what what we know is that often people will stake out our clubs for various purposes.”

Police are encouraging anyone with information about the hit-and-run to call detectives at 312-747-8380 or to submit an anonymous tip at www.cpdtip.com.

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