Manuel’s Tavern owner speaks out after ‘brazen criminal act’ leaves a man dead

The owner of the legendary Manuel’s Tavern in northeast Atlanta is still trying to process what happened in the bar’s parking lot Thursday night.

Detectives say a patron of the bar was shot to death while trying to stop the gunman from breaking into cars.

"It feels like it happened in our home," said Brian Maloof. "This place means that much to us."

Maloof said the victim just closed his tab and headed out the door, when he encountered the would-be robber in the parking area behind the bar, which also has tents and tables for customers to sit at.  

He said about 15 people watched the encounter with the thief, all of whom had already called 911.

Then, the guy pulled out a gun and shot the customer point-blank.

"It’s just a brazen criminal act," said Maloof. "To do what happened in the presence of 15 witnesses is a level of boldness and criminality that I can’t comprehend."

He said a staff member who had military training began treating the man, but it was already too late.

Witnesses said the shooter jumped into a getaway car waiting nearby and sped off.

The bar has been around for 66 years and has become a popular spot for politicians, including former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.

"I come here two or three times a week so it was terrible to hear about," said Jeff Beamer, who lives nearby.

Maloof, the owner, says this is the first time anything like this has happened since its opening in 1956.

"We have a history of being a cop and nurse bar, so to speak, after 10 o’clock," he said. "Unfortunately, last night we didn’t have anybody in uniform in here. I wish we had."

Atlanta police told FOX 5 that they have not named any suspects. They have not released a description of the shooter or the getaway car.

Maloof said none of the bar’s security cameras captured the incident because they are focused on the doors to the establishment.

Police ask anyone with information on the murder to call them. Tipsters can remain anonymous, and be eligible for rewards of up to $2,000, by contacting Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477, texting information to 274637 or visiting the Crime Stoppers website.