Police are looking for three suspects in a shooting at a northwest Atlanta lounge that left one woman dead.
It happened early Thursday at O.T.'s Lounge and Soul Food Grill near New Jersey Avenue and Joseph E. Boone Boulevard.
Investigators say an officer patrolling the area heard gunshots around 2 a.m. They say he found a woman shot to death inside the lounge.
Family members identified the victim as 53-year-old Vanessa Elaine Thrasher. She had been shot seven times. They said $200 had been stolen from the register.
According to Atlanta police, three men walked into the business and at some point an altercation started. The suspects walked out a short time later.
They say at least two of the suspects walked by the responding officer as he was pursuing a man seen running away from the lounge. It was later determined that the man had nothing to do with the crime.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard believes Thrasher may have been targeted.
Howard said that hours before she was shot, she had been talking to investigators about a 2011 shooting that occurred in her bar's parking lot. Her security bouncer was caught in the crossfire as two men argued over a pool game.
Howard said that one defendant has already entered a plea. The other defendant's trial was slated to begin on Monday and Thrasher – who witnessed the shooting -- was prepared to testify, according to Howard.
Atlanta police had been assigned to perform extra surveillance of the club to protect Thrasher. Late Thursday afternoon, police released surveillance footage of three men suspected in the crime.
He said he had offered to put Thrasher in a safe location, but she declined.
Friends, customers and neighbors gathered on Thursday night in front of the northwest Atlanta restaurant Thrasher and her family ran for decades.
"She feared nothing. She was nothing but courageous so the example she set really should ring loud with these young people," said Ivory Young of the Atlanta City Council.
Olivia Haugabook, who knew Thrasher, says Thrasher was trying to do something positive for the community. Her brother told FOX 5 she took over the business two years ago.
Family members say Thrasher was a no-nonsense woman and did not tolerate any rules being broken in her restaurant and would kick people out.
Police ask anyone with information on the shooting to call CrimeStoppers at (404)577-TIPS (8477).
1551 Briarcliff Rd., NE Atlanta, GA 30306
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