Murder trial of suspect in Downtown Atlanta hookah bar shooting to begin Monday

Damon Wilson (Atlanta Police Department)

At 9:30 Monday morning, 21-year-old Damon Wilson is scheduled to walk into the Fulton County Superior Court to stand trial for the murder of 28-year-old Ty Ross.

Ross’ murder led to the closure of the Encore Hookah Bar and Bistro on the 300 block of Luckie Street, and a citywide push for better nightlife safety. He was working as a security guard the night of Feb. 2, 2022, when management allegedly kicked out Wilson. Prosecutors accuse Wilson of pulling out a gun and killing Ross.

"Waiting on trial is kind of like that final piece of this entire story before you can finally start to heal and move on," said Aaliyah Strong, Ross’ fiancée and also an employee at Encore at the time.

Aaliyah Strong told FOX 5 Atlanta that she and Ty were soulmates. (FOX 5 Atlanta)

She said Monday morning will be the first time she will see the video of his murder, something she said she has been mentally preparing herself for.

"It’s such a bittersweet moment to face the person that did this to him," Strong told FOX 5’s Rob DiRienzo. "It is justice in a sense because you know that he won’t be able to do this to anyone else."

After a series of shootings at Encore, Strong fought the city to have the lounge closed. She won.

"It’s not going to bring Ty back," Strong said. "There’s nothing to happen in court or wherever that’s going to bring him back."

Since his murder, Strong said she has become an advocate for victims and survivors of nightclub gun violence.

She thought the city had been improving, up until the murder of Republic Lounge owner Michael Gidewon last weekend.

"I just want to encourage people to think before they react because one split decision can change so many lives," she said.

The charges that Wilson faces include murder, battery, and aggravated assault.