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'My son didn't hurt nobody:' David McAtee, Louisville business owner, killed by authorities

Louisville Courier-Journal logo Louisville Courier-Journal 6/1/2020 Phillip M. Bailey, Louisville Courier Journal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — David McAtee, the owner of a barbecue business in western Louisville, was shot and killed by law enforcement officers early Monday morning, an incident that's now under state and local police investigation.

McAtee was known as a "community pillar," said his mother, Odessa Riley.

"He left a great legend behind. He was a good person. Everybody around him would say that," she said. "My son didn't hurt nobody. He didn't do nothing to nobody."

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Riley was among the hundreds who have swarmed the corner of 26th and Broadway on Monday where Louisville police and National Guard personnel were breaking up a "large crowd" that had gathered in the parking lot outside a Dino's Food Mart, according to law enforcement officials.

a man holding a baseball bat: A man wipes away tears at the intersection of 26th and Broadway Monday morning after a man was shot and killed by LMPD outside Dino's Market 12:15 a.m. June 1, 2020 © Matt Stone/Courier Journal A man wipes away tears at the intersection of 26th and Broadway Monday morning after a man was shot and killed by LMPD outside Dino's Market 12:15 a.m. June 1, 2020

Chief Steve Conrad said in a statement on Monday how someone shot at officers and both officers and soldiers "returned fire." The identities of the suspect and the law enforcement officers who returned fire have not been released.

More: From tense to touching moments, here's how Louisville's protests went down Sunday night

McAtee's barbecue business is located next to the Dino's Food Mart parking lot where the shooting took place around 12:15 a.m. Monday morning.

His identity was confirmed to The Courier Journal Monday by his nephew. 

Who was David McAtee?

McAtee, 53, operated a barbecue business at one of the West End's most popular corners, especially on the weekends. But those who knew the chef said he was known to cook at several community events across the areas nine neighborhoods.

"Mr. McAtee would help us with Californian Day for at least 15 years if not longer," Greg Cotton, Jr., who lives in Middletown, said in an interview on Monday. "He was one of the ones who would donate all his time and all his food, everybody could just come up and take it and he wouldn't charge because it was for the neighborhood."

McAtee's mother and his nephew told The Courier Journal that he was known to feed the police as well. The two said he could give law enforcement offices free meals. 

"He fed them free," Riley said. "He fed the police and didn't charge them nothing."

"My son was a good son. All he did on that barbecue corner is try to make a dollar for himself and his family," she added. "And they come along and they killed my son." 

Metro Council President David James described McAtee as a personal friend who cared about the California neighborhood and all other parts of the West End. He said the local chef was knowledgeable about what was going on in the neighborhood and the city but always would offer free food to those in need and others.

"He’s just a good, decent person," James said. "He believes in this neighborhood. He loves his city, loves his neighborhood, loves to cook food, loves to keep people happy with his sense of humor. He’s just a great guy.

Cotton, who lives in Middletown, said the death of a generous working man in the community is going to be another slap as the city is still reeling from the controversial police shooting of Breonna Taylor.

"Mr. McAtee's legacy is something that cannot be duplicated or replaced," he said. "There are only a handful of people who care about the community the way that he did."

What have his family members said?

Riley told reporters Monday that when a mother loses a child, "a piece of you goes along with that child." 

"It's alright to lose a mother or father. You get hurt by that, too. But when a mother loses her child, a piece of you goes along with that child," she said. 

"Why? Because you carry that child for nine long months." 

She said she buried her "baby daughter on Jan. 22" and "now, my baby son has gotten killed." 

"I'm just going through it," she said. 

Mayor Greg Fischer cut through the massive crowd that had gathered at 26th Street and Broadway to speak with McAtee's mother directly. He spoke with the family as some onlookers expressed appreciation for the mayor appearing while others said he was there for a photo-op and should instead call for the National Guard to be pulled back.

Riley, McAtee's mother, said Fischer expressed his condolences and said "anything that he can do for me, he's there for me and my family."

"He even said a prayer and everything before he left," she said. "Mayor Fischer was really nice, and I told him he was a good person." 

When asked if she thought that the body camera footage from the shooting should be released and if the National Guard needed to be pulled out of the city, other family members chimed in and said: "All of that. We want all of that." 

Also: After nights of protest, Louisville is hurting. Where does the city go from here?

Reach Phillip M. Bailey at or 502-582-4475. Follow him on Twitter at @phillipmbailey.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: 'My son didn't hurt nobody:' David McAtee, Louisville business owner, killed by authorities


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