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Atlanta hookah bar closes after two years of violent crime

Officers have responded to the Encore Hookah Bar & Bistro on Luckie Street 171 times over the last two years.

ATLANTA — An Atlanta hookah lounge has been forced to close its doors -- a move that police say will make the city safer.

Atlanta Police officers have responded to the Encore Hookah Bar & Bistro on Luckie Street 171 times over the last two years for everything from aggravated assault to homicides.

The city recently asked a judge to stop the tenants from using the property.

On its Instagram page, the lounge posted "If you haven't heard. After a long battle with the powers that be, Encore is closing its doors for good."

11Alive sent crews to the lounge Tuesday morning and found a legal notice from the city on the window, ordering the business to stop work in late March.

We've reached out to the property owner to see if they have a comment about why exactly the lounge closed down, but so far we haven't heard back.

Last year, the property owner said they gave the tenant (Encore Hookah Bar) until December to leave the property, however, they did not do so and it ended up in court. It is not clear if the recent closure was due to the eviction or something else. 

In a statement, Habif Properties, the management company for the property said it was "very pleased with the outcome of the Temporary Restraining Order and are grateful for the actions taken by the City of Atlanta Deputy Solicitor, Erika Smith, in this matter."

Several specific crimes were detailed in the city's complaint, including an October 25, 2021 shooting of an off-duty police officer working as a parking attendant. The officer was shot in the face, returned fire and killed the man who shot him. 

Then there was the January 7, 2021 death of Deandre Houston, who was found with a gunshot wound to his chest. 

Police said Houston was headed to his car to charge his phone, when the suspects allegedly approached him in a stolen Nissan, shot him, and left. 

One of the other key complaints laid out was the February 2, 2022 killing of security guard Ty Ross

Ross' girlfriend Aaliyah Strong worked at Encore with him and was there the night Ty was shot. Strong no longer works at Encore. 

Strong has called out her former employer, for not properly addressing her boyfriend's murder as well as other acts of violence. In the time she worked at Encore, Strong said she'd often hear about shootings outside the bar and was fearful to leave work after her shift. 

In the complaint, the city stated its "exhausted the resources of its employees, the Atlanta Police Department, the City Solicitor’s Office, the Atlanta Police Department License and Permits Division, and the Atlanta Police Department Code Enforcement Division in attempting to resolve this matter."

Another complaint stated employees of the nearby Hyatt Place Atlanta Centennial Park hotel fear for their lives, and private security guards at the hotel are armed and required to wear body armor for their safety.

One of the shootings detailed in the complaint includes the night of September 17, 2021 when a man was shot three times after getting into a fight inside the bar.

"As security escorted the victim to the parking lot, the suspect fired shots, injuring the victim. The security guard returned fire," the complaint reads. 

As a result of that shooting, several bullets penetrated the nearby Georgia Aquarium, causing damage to the dolphin habitat. Five dolphins were removed in order for a dive team to clean out glass. Six months later, another shooting resulted in bullets once against shattering glass at the aquarium.

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