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‘He Was Out There Working for His Kids’: Family Devastated After Father of Six Working as Bouncer Killed While Keeping Patron Out of Chicago Bar

Police continue to look for the suspect who shot an Army veteran working as a hookah lounge bouncer after he turned away a person trying to enter the Chicago venue.

Austin McAllister’s family struggles to make sense of the tragedy that left some of his children orphans. A mother of the man’s children died from COVID-19 earlier in 2022.

The 38-year-old man was working as security at the end of the year “BYOB New Year’s Eve party” at The Lyons Den in the Ukrainian Village of the Windy City when he was fatally shot by a disgruntled partygoer who was refused entrance to the club, according to ABC 7 News.

Austin McAllister, 38, was shot to death
Austin McAllister, 38, was shot to death on Jan. 1, 2023, at the Lyon’s Den Hookah Lounge in Chicago. (Photo: Facebook/Legal Help Firm)

The suspect is said to have tried to forcibly enter the establishment with a loaded firearm around 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 1. Gunfire was exchanged between the intruder and two other men. As a result, McAllister was hit multiple times and later rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly afterward, becoming one of the first to lose their life to gun violence in 2023.

The other man was in his 20s, according to law enforcement. That unnamed victim was shot in his left calf, taken to the same hospital, and was said to be in good condition.

McAllister’s death came on the anniversary of his own mother’s and months after the mother of his children succumbed to COVID-19-related symptoms.

With this dark cloud already over the family’s head, his children are calling for justice.

One of his children, Ahaniyah McAllister, said, “I just want justice for my dad. We’ve been through a lot, from losing our mom to COVID to now our dad being killed,” WGN 9 reported.

Family members say the father of six and Iraq War veteran was working an honest job protecting others to provide for his family. He also worked as a personal trainer.

Denotra Allen, his sister, explained, “He got hurt in Iraq to come home to Chicago and be killed because he turned a patron away from the hookah lounge.”

“He wasn’t out there partying,” Allen said. “He wasn’t drinking. He was out there working.”

“He was at a job, protecting other people while they were enjoying themselves,” the retired Chicago police officer continued.

Another sibling devastated by McAllister’s death was his twin brother Alan McAllister, who was working at the lounge the same night his brother was killed.

For Alan, his brother was an “amazing person” who he not only looked up to but spent a lifetime sharing experiences with.

“He was just an amazing person to me. He was my hero; somebody I spent a lot of time with. Somebody who really gave me strength and encouragement and believed me,” said Alan.

Alan said at a press conference, dressed in his brother’s jacket and jewelry, he and all that loved Austin are simply “trying to hold it together and stay strong.”

“I just want to tell you, brother. I love you, and I respect you, and I can’t wait to see you again,” Alan said.

McAllister’s son’s mother Latoya Wade returned to the lounge with CBS News and said in an exclusive interview about his slaying that taking that step was helping with her closure.

“I just had to come and see where this bar was,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe it.” 

“Hardworking, he served the country, he was out here trying to make a living for his children,” Wade said. “The guy couldn’t get into the bar last night. He was telling him he couldn’t get in and the guy just took his life.” 

One of Wade’s biggest struggles in processing his death was the shooter’s urgency to get into the lounge.

She said, “Just go find another bar to go to. Why would you take someone’s life because you couldn’t get in? Oh my God! I can’t believe this.” 

Reports, or the lack of them, suggest that after over 20 days, no arrests have been made.

On Wednesday, Jan. 4, the Block Club Chicago reported, Alderman Brian Hopkins sent a letter to Chicago Police Supt. David Brown asked for a summary closure of the lounge, stating the club poses a “serious public safety threat to the community.”

In the letter, the alderman noted this was not the first time something “nefarious” happened at the establishment.

“The promotional staff of the establishment has created an environment where large groups of individuals are encouraged to come to the club for events without proper security protocols in place,” he wrote, “Security staff has been reported not to have the necessary equipment or training to check for weapons, properly scan identification, or mitigate disturbances.”

“These incidents apply to being a ‘violent’ offense’ involving ‘patrons, or otherwise involving circumstances having a nexus to the operation of the establishment,” Hopkins continued. “Therefore, I respectfully ask that you immediately invoke the authority granted under Paragraph C of Section 4-4-285 and issue a summary closure order for the establishment.”

 “Police can use a summary closure order to temporarily close a business if they determine it presents a public safety risk,” Quinn Meyers from BCC reports. “Businesses can appeal the decision or face a closure of up to six months.”

The lounge remains open.

Police said the suspect was last seen fleeing the scene of the crime in a light-colored SUV and heading west on Division Street after shooting the two men.

Despite having no suspects in custody, Chicago police recovered at least one gun from the scene of the shooting and continue to review surveillance video. 

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