Restaurant owner shot, killed in her own business

Updated:

ATLANTA —

The owner of a northwest Atlanta bar and grill was shot to death inside her own business on Thursday morning, police said.

Crime scene tape stretched across a small shopping center on Joseph E. Boone and New Jersey Avenue. Detectives said the shooting happened inside O.T.’s Lounge and Soul Food Grill just after 2 a.m.

Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman said homicide detectives and the medical examiner remained on the scene several hours after the shooting. Several of Vanessa Thrasher's distraught family members were seen outside the restaurant, as well. Thrasher was also known as Elaine.

An officer on patrol heard gunshots and quickly responded to the scene, but the two suspects slipped past him, police spokesman Capt. Adam Lee told Stockman.

“The two suspects actually walked near him to their vehicle, but from what we’re being told, they were walking in a regular fashion. They weren’t running, so the officer had no reason to believe at that point that they were the actual perpetrators of the crime,” Lee said.

A friend of the victim told Stockman the owner has been well known in the neighborhood for years.

“Her grandfather gave her this business and she kept it open. Many times she wanted to get out but people told her not to,” Olivia Haugabook said.

Thrasher's sisters said she hoped to make a difference in the community by mentoring children.

"She wanted to come out and make a change in the community," Tina Thrasher said.

"She was my baby sister and I lovbe her and I hope they find who did this," Bonita Thrasher said.

Police released photos of three potential suspects in the shooting.