ATLANTA — Atlanta Police on Thursday announced an arrest in the shooting death of a 28-year-old security guard earlier this month. He was remembered by his girlfriend as a "very calming spirit" who became a father figure to her young son.
Ty Ross, the security guard, died after the shooting on Feb. 2 at Encore Hookah Bar and Bistro off Luckie Street in Downtown Atlanta.
Police said he was shot several times, and his girlfriend Aaliyah Strong later told 11Alive he had gunshot wounds to his lung, chest and spine and that "they just couldn't like stop the internal bleeding."
APD said on Thursday they had arrested a 21-year-old man and charged him with murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and simple battery. The department credited its homicide investigators and fugitive unit for tracking the suspect down.
Crime Stoppers had been offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
In remembering her boyfriend, Strong described Ty as a charismatic, genuine, humble person who loved everyone. He died just days after his 28th birthday.
Strong said he started working at Encore Hookah Bar and Bistro a week before he was killed to make some extra money to pay bills. She also worked with Ty at Encore Hookah Bar and Bistro as a server. The two met at the bar and became close, eventually dating and living together for the past year.
Strong said the night he was killed, the bar was very crowded.
"I just saw like a bunch of commotion at the front doors," she said. "I didn't know what was going on. So, I tried to kind of look out the front door to see why it was so many people like rushing out. And then his friend came back inside and was just like frantic."
Strong recalls asking his friend where he was. He replied to her, "Ty got shot," she said.
"So, I ran outside. And I saw him like laying on the ground and bleeding out," she said. "But, I didn't know where he got shot. So, I kind of was just kneeling by him trying to talk to him and he wasn't responding."
Strong said when EMS and police arrived, they were able to get him stable.
"He was talking, he was alert. He knew he had been shot," Strong said.
Ty was taken to the hospital where he underwent surgery for several hours. Strong said the surgeon told her he had been shot three times.
"One bullet hit his lung, one bullet went through his spine and then the other one hit his chest cavity," she recalled. "And they just couldn't stop the internal bleeding."
Strong added she went to say goodbye and then had to tell Ty's family and friends that he didn't make it out of surgery.
"It really just still feels unreal," she said. "I just was crying for like hours because I hadn't been asleep in like a day and a half. So, when I finally did go to sleep and woke up, it really hit me."
Strong added on her Instagram, "There are no words to explain this pain, the pain I feel right now is unreal."
Being a mother adds another layer. Strong said Ty and her 4-year-old son were extremely close.
"It's rare, as a single mother, especially in your 20s, that you find a man willing to fill those shoes to really be a full 24/7 father figure to your child. I haven't even brought my son home yet because I know he's going to ask 'where is Ty?' Because that's all it ever was here."
Ty passed away nine days after his 28th birthday, and while she processes her grief, Strong said she would rather Ty be remembered for who he was instead of how he died.
Family and friends have been wearing shirts that say "Ty's Keeper" since his death. Friends said Strong will always be "Ty's Keeper."
Ty was originally from Richmond, Virginia. He had two brothers, a sister, and leaves behind his mother and father.