Death Threats Force Dallas Bar to Temporarily Shut Down After White Employee Violently Attacked Black Woman

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The Dallas bar that once employed the man at the center of violent attack in the city’s Deep Ellum entertainment district last week has reopened is doors after closing down temporarily due to threats.

Austin Shuffield, who’s facing misdemeanor assault charges in a parking lot dispute that escalated into a physical confrontation, was a bartender at the High and Tight Barbershop and Speakeasy. Shuffield, 30, was immediately fired from the gig, where he’d worked off and on for about two years, after shocking video surfaced of his apparent assault on a young Black woman.

Austin Shuffield
High and Tight bar co-owner Braxton Martin (left) made the difficult decision to close his business’ doors for the weekend after shocking video of an ex-employee violently assaulting a woman sparked threats against the bar and protests by local community members. (Video screenshots courtesy of NBC Dallas-Fort Worth and The Dallas Morning News)

“It’s absolutely sickening what’s happened to this young lady and how she’s been treated, especially by an ex-employee of our’s,” bar co-owner Braxton Martin told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.

Martin confirmed Shuffield’s firing at a press conference Sunday, but said Shuffield wasn’t working for the bar at the time of the March 21 attack. The incident sparked protests over the weekend, and Martin said several threats against the bar and other employees forced him to close the business for the weekend. Extra security was also brought on as a precaution.

“I’ve got staff members that are scared to come to work,” he told the station. “We’ve all received threats in some way, shape or form … death threats, death phone calls, people calling the shop saying they’re going to shoot us up for being a part of this.”

High and Tight reopened its doors on Monday. Now, Martin said he an and other local businesses working to organize and fundraising event to benefit the victim.

“We do not stand behind Austin Shuffield or his actions,” Martin said on Sunday. “That’s the most disgusting thing we’ve seen.”

About 75 community members gathered to march in support of the victim on Saturday and to demand stiffer charges against her attacker, The Dallas Morning News reported. Activist and protest organizer Dominique Alexander decried what he called an inattention to racial issues in Dallas and called on local leaders to address this attack by a white man on an African-American woman.

“We have to continue to be vigilant against racism in this city,” he told the newspaper. “And we have to stop pretending that racism doesn’t happen in this city.”

Witness video from the incident showed Shuffield knock a cellphone from the 24-year-old woman’s hands as she tried to dial 911, to which she responded with a shove. The man hit back and repeatedly struck the young woman in the face and head as she doubled over in pain. Sheffield was also holding what appeared to be a gun, in his opposite hand.

According to police, the dispute reportedly started after the woman blocked Shuffield’s car from a parking lot exit. He has since been charged with aggravated assault causing bodily injury, public drunkenness and interference with an emergency call.

The victim, who remains unnamed, has been in and out of the hospital after reportedly suffering a head injury and a perforated ear drum in the attack. Her lawyer, S. Lee Merritt, is pushing for hate crime charges against the suspect and said Shuffield berated his client with racial slurs.

“She’s scared,” Lee Merritt told the Morning News. “The man who assaulted her still has a gun.”

Dallas police said an investigation into the incident is ongoing and that more serious charges could be filed.

“Detectives in this case are still interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence and will determine what, if any, additional charges should be filed,” the department said in a statement.

Shuffield has since been released from jail on $2,000 bond.

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