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'This could’ve been me' | Neighbors concerned after good Samaritan killed during attempted car break-in at Manuel's Tavern

Dean Phillips tried to confront a burglar targeting cars in the parking lot and was shot in the chest.

ATLANTA — The man shot and killed overnight outside of Atlanta's historic Manuel's Tavern was trying to stop someone from breaking into cars, police said. Now neighbors in the area are concerned after a good Samaritan lost his life.

”We have a dead person that just came out to have a drink that could’ve easily been me,” said Poncey-Highland resident, Brad Carter on Friday. 

He said a good Samaritan, identified as Dean Phillips, who tried to confront a burglar targeting cars in the parking lot should not have been shot and killed.

“The gentleman last night, from everything I’ve gathered, he paid his tab, he enjoyed himself inside, came out, was having a conversation with a friend when he witness somebody who was walking up and down the row of cars and pulling on door handles and looking in windows," Brian Malloof, the owner of the Manuel's Tavern said. "He said something to him and then he told a group of patrons who were sitting out here, about 15 people were out here."

Atlanta Police Department investigators said it happened around 11:00 p.m. Thursday and are working to piece together exactly what happened. 

Malloof was at the tavern and said shortly after being confronted, the alleged burglar opened fire at on Phillips. The 54-year-old was shot in the chest.

RELATED: Man shot, killed outside of historic Manuel's Tavern

“This wasn’t two people in a dark alley," Maloof said. "I think the individual, the criminal, had seen that the police have been called and he carried out this horrendous murder."

Maloof explained that two employees - including a military vet trained to treat gunshot wounds - began performing first aid but could not stop the bleeding. He adds that Phillips died shortly after emergency services arrived.

"I don’t understand that," Maloof said. "He (the alleged burglar) had the opportunity to jump in what appears to be a waiting vehicle for him but it was like he wanted this confrontation."

According to crime statistics, this is the 16th homicide that has occurred in Atlanta's Zone 6 this year and would have been one of about 1,600 car-breaking during the same time period. Despite the fact that Marlow‘s Tavern officials say they have seen a decrease in crime on their property, those who live close by remain on edge.

“This is in my neighborhood; this could’ve been me -- this could’ve been any of us," Carter said. "You see somebody breaking into a car during business hours operation -- is that what happens?” 

Manuel's Tavern is a well-known, historic restaurant in the city. During the pandemic, it was on the brink of closing, but the community instead stepped up and raised thousands to keep this place open.

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