Family of man shot, killed at Atlanta strip club wants the club held accountable

ATLANTA — He was a shoe designer with plans of opening a store next to big-name designer shops in Hollywood, but his father says he was in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

21-year-old Dishawn Herndon was shot and killed by a stray bullet fired during a shooting in the parking lot of a strip club.

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Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne spoke exclusively to the man’s father about how he’s hoping to hold the club accountable.

Herndon’s dad said Herndon was an entrepreneur who graduated from high school at 16 years old with honors, and was clean-cut, loving and energetic until he was shot to death outside the Blue Flame Lounge.

Robin Herndon said he has filed a lawsuit to prevent another family from going through what he is experiencing.

“I didn’t believe it but the first thing I did, I just started praying,” he said. “I got a call from a detective, and he said, ‘yes, I can verify it was Dishawn and he’s deceased,’ so I just kind of dropped to the floor and started crying.”

Lawyer Thomas Reynolds said the Blue Flame Lounge faces a lawsuit over the shooting death of Herndon on Jan. 26.

“Venues have an obligation to make sure that their establishments are safe for their patrons,” Reynolds said.

Robin Herndon said his son was a custom sneaker designer who designed shoes for many famous people and he believes his son was at the Blue Flame strip club to meet someone about custom-designed shoes.

“The reason he was there in Georgia is because he was on a shoe tour,” he said.

Reynolds said he’s suing in large part because the Blue Flame should’ve known that because of past violent occurrences on or near the property, it needed to do more to protect people.

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Channel 2 reported that in February 2021, three men were shot at the lounge. Witnesses said a car drove up in front of the club and fired several shots. Also, in May 2018, two private security officers were shot inside the club after they escorted a group of club patrons out for inappropriate behavior.

“It’s been very public that they’ve struggled with controlling the criminal element,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said that it appeared Dishawn Herndon had intended to enter the club, but he believes Herndon did not and that he had no part in an altercation that may have taken place in the club before the shooting.

Ben Sessions, attorney for the Blue Flame Lounge, said he had no comment while the civil case is pending.

“There’s a lot of things that could’ve been done differently that were not,” Reynolds said.

Michael Antoniolli, the defense lawyer for Dedric Howard — who’s been charged with Dishawn Herndon’s murder — said Howard, who had been at the club with his mother, stepfather and girlfriend, is innocent. He said when Howard found out he had a warrant, he voluntarily turned himself in. Antoniolli said he has viewed video showing gunfire from multiple persons on the night in question and his client had already left by that time.

He said in court, “it was like the OK Corral out there in the parking lot.”

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Robin Herndon says he’s clinging to the Bible’s promises in his heart and mind to find strength.

“I’m praying to experience that time with my son where he’ll be resurrected again and whatever’s happening now will be a thing of the past and I don’t have to go without, living without my son,” he said.