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Police Will Push West Loop's Red Kiva To Close After Man Shot Dead Outside

By  Stephanie Lulay Erica Demarest and Alex Nitkin | September 9, 2015 7:27am 

 Police will push Red Kiva, an embattled West Loop restaurant and nightclub on Randolph, to close after a fatal shooting occurred nearby early Sunday.
Police will push Red Kiva, an embattled West Loop restaurant and nightclub on Randolph, to close after a fatal shooting occurred nearby early Sunday.
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DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin

WEST LOOP — Police will push an embattled pizza restaurant and nightclub on Randolph to close after a fatal shooting occurred nearby early Sunday, a West Loop alderman said.

Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said both the victims and their attackers were at Red Kiva, 1108 W. Randolph St., early Sunday before a fight later broke out on the street. The ensuing shooting on the sidewalk outside left one 23-year-old man dead and injured another.

Friends and family say the victim, Lavell Southern, 23, was a family man and actively involved in the church where his father, Maurice Southern, serves as pastor. A football star at Mount Carmel High School for four years and later a defensive back at Carthage College in Wisconsin, family said he was at home recovering from an injury on the field, but planned to return to college.

Burnett talked to Near West District Cmdr. Ed Kulbida Tuesday morning. Police leaders did not think the shooting near Red Kiva met the burden required by a new city ordinance Mayor Rahm Emanuel enacted to close problem bars, but said that police are meeting with Red Kiva owners to pressure the bar to voluntarily close for 60-90 days.

"We've got to be very careful in how we deal with the law," Burnett said. "But at the same time, if [the establishment] isn't licensed in the right way... the burden is upon them whether they stay open or not."

Stephanie Lulay discusses Red Kiva's potential closure:

Red Kiva has a liquor license hearing scheduled for later this month, Burnett said. New owners were attempting to get the liquor license transferred from old ownership, he said, but they had an uphill battle. The West Loop Community Organization, a city delegate agency, did not support the license transfer and Burnett was unsure if owners were able to garner support from other area groups. 

The city may be considering subterfuge charges against the club, the alderman said.

"I'm going to recommend that the law be upheld," Burnett said. "If they didn't do their due diligence, they can't stay open."

Calls to the West Loop club were not returned Tuesday. Red Kiva is owned by Princess Lomax, president of Regent Entertainment Inc., according to state records. The business previously operated under the names Rhythm and Red Bar.

Thomas Rice, chef/partner at TETE Charcuterie, a restaurant specializing in cured meats that neighbors Red Kiva, said he filed complaints against the problem business with Burnett, the city Liquor Commissioner's office and the Chicago Police. The restaurateur said he's really worried about how the shooting will affect his business.

"To be honest, we were just waiting for this to happen. [Criminal activity] is just being shuffled from place to place. First Green Dolphin, then Sawtooth, then Red Kiva," Rice said. "This has to stop. There can't be any tolerance for this kind of activity."

The shooting comes five months after a shooting at Sawtooth, located a few blocks from Red Kiva, forced the restaurant and nightclub to close.

Rice said that a rough crowd — one that he characterized as "riffraff" — has been lingering around Red Kiva all summer. Around midnight, when many of Randolph's ritzy restaurants close, the western stretch of street becomes "a total free-for-all" for clubbing crowds, Rice said.

The alderman should see that there's real danger going on this neighborhood, and he needs to be able to react in a much more timely manner," he said. "I think their liquor license should be revoked as soon as possible, for sure."

Burnett said the restaurant and nightclub has operated in the West Loop for more than 15 years without problems.

"This is the first time that I know of that an incident of this magnitude or any magnitude has come from that establishment that I can recall," The alderman said. "But everybody's got to abide by the rules. Whether its Red Kiva or an expensive joint in the neighborhood, they've got to be right."

Carla Agostinelli, executive director of the West Loop Community Organization, said the group has been working with city departments to investigate the violent incident.

"As a delegate agency of the City of the Chicago, public safety is our top priority. This mandate extends beyond informing the community of potential threats but providing a voice and the resources to prevent tragedies like Sunday," she said in a statement. " While we are committed to helping small businesses thrive and navigate red tape, we cannot tolerate those who break the rules and put our residents and visitors in harm's way."

Public safety is the city's "chief priority," Mika Stambaugh, a spokesperson with the city's department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, said in a statement.

"We will continue to work with the relevant stakeholders to address issues at this establishment," she said.

In April, two men died and another man was wounded in shootings after a fight in Dolphin nightclub in Bucktown spilled into the street. The violent episode prompted the city to bring a new case to court in an attempt to close the club.

Two high-profile shootings near Funky Buddha Lounge in November 2014 prompted neighbors to call for the longtime River West bar to close. In February, Burnett confirmed the bar had closed for good.

One alleged shooter held without bail

Around 2:30 a.m. Southern and another man, both 23, were standing on the sidewalk near 1142 W. Randolph Street when a black van pulled up and someone inside fired shots, according to Officer Janel Sedevic, a Chicago Police spokeswoman.

Both men were brought to Stroger Hospital, where Southern was pronounced dead with a gunshot wound in the back of his head and back, Sedevic said. The other young man was treated and released.

Andre Harris, 31, of the 7100 block of South Morgan Street in Englewood, was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery by discharging a firearm in the shooting death.

Cook County Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. ordered Harris held without bail during a hearing Tuesday.

"One individual is dead. Another is shot. ... I think you are dangerous. You are a danger," the judge said.

The two victims were attending a birthday party at the West Loop club. Both left the club with friends at about 2 a.m. early Sunday, according to Assistant State's Attorney Kim Przekota.

About a half block west of the club, the pair ran into Harris and several men. Victims knew Harris, also known as "Dre-Wood," because Harris was dating the friend of Southern's girlfriend, Przekota said.

Harris became aggressive with the unknown victim, before pulling out a gun and pointing it at the victim, according to Przekota. According to several witnesses, Harris chased the man, while the man raised his hands in an attempt to stop the altercation.

Southern tried to intervene, Przekota said, and one of the men with Harris pulled out a gun and hit Southern in the head with it.

That man, who has not yet been charged, said "blow, Dre," which several witnesses understood to mean "shoot," according to Przekota.

The victims, who were unarmed, started running west on Randolph toward Racine as Harris and his accomplice opened fire, prosecutors said.

Police recovered multiple .45 caliber and 9 mm shell casings on the scene, prosecutors said.

Multiple witnesses identified Harris as one of the shooters, and he was arrested at his Englewood home about 1:15 p.m. Sunday, court records show.

At the house, police found two guns — a .45 caliber and a 9 mm — as well as pants that appeared to have blood on them, Przekota said. Both guns matched the shell casings on the scene

Harris was previously convicted in three separate drug cases, as well as a 2015 reckless-conduct case.

Harris' attorney, Sam Adam Jr., said Harris works for his family's demolition company, as well as an auto body company. He has one child, Adam said, and another on the way.

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