‘Chicken Coop’ owner defends business after deadly shooting in parking lot

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Over the weekend, a shootout in a parking lot on 21st Avenue led to the death of a 20-year-old man.

Police say Dontario Graham was killed in the altercation. But Metro Councilman Colby Sledge said it’s not the first time police have been called out to that area.

“That particular address, which has been under several different names in that complex over the last few years has been a real problem,” Sledge said. “This is a business that is not positive for our community, it’s not positive for anybody around to have somewhere where there are multiple calls out for shots fired, there are multiple calls out for fights.”

The building, split into four business spaces, had two open during the time of the shooting on Saturday morning just after 1 a.m. But Chicken Coop owner Jaumarice Cooper said he cannot be held responsible since the shooting happened in the parking lot outside of his restaurant.

“It has been a really bad spot for a long time, and my hope is that that business will be shut down,” Sledge said.

Cooper says he isn’t accountable for the past history of the building. Cooper only started leasing the space last August.

“Even when I moved in, it’s already a battle because they feel like you’re going to bring something,” Cooper said.

Ali Arab owns the restaurants on the first floor of the complex and said because of the police activity due to the late-night crowds, he’s lost business.

“We don’t feel good about that. It’s very, very painful and we are hurting very bad,” Arab said.

Arab said his Pizza Perfect employees were scared walking into work on Saturday because of the crime scene.

“We had to walk through the parking lot and the detective escorted us to the door to make sure we are not hitting any evidence or numbers that they had on there,” Arab said.

But Cooper said his employees were scared too. He said he staffs private security inside his restaurant to protect his customers.

Since the shooting, Cooper held a vigil for the victim and promoted a GoFundMe to help his family.

Find the latest crime reports on WKRN.com’s Crime Tracker

“I hold a candlelight, pay for the funeral arrangements, whatever, to ease this pain of this family. I don’t even know this young man,” Cooper said.

He said since the shooting he’s noticed an increased police presence in the area. Sledge said he was informed MNPD would monitor the area frequently because of the homicide.

Metro Police said at this time no suspects have been identified in Graham’s death.

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