Friends remember beloved Shively lounge owner killed by customer

A customer is now in jail on murder charges connected to the crime.
Published: Dec. 20, 2019 at 11:54 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – A beloved business owner was killed in a shootout at a Shively hookah bar early Friday morning.

A customer is now in jail on murder charges connected to the crime.

Police say that Lance Bowman, 33, was asked to leave Retta’s Hookah Lounge, but then returned and shot the owner.

Bowman was then shot by a security guard. He has since been released from the hospital and is in jail.

Friends identify the victim as James Mentee, 27.

The loss still doesn't feel real for Montez Jones, who has known Mentee for 12 years.

“He’s more like a brother, a person that helped me in so many ways, he took me off the streets put me into Retta's,” Jones said.

He said James Mentee showed him his worth, hiring him as an entertainer at his hookah lounge.

“It was more than business, it was a brotherhood, “Jones said.

Always smiling, goofing off and having fun, Jones remembers Mentee as a truly compassionate man who lived for others.

“Somebody that when you ain't got the money to pay your phone bill, that will pay your phone bill,” Jones said. “Somebody that will feed you when you're hungry, somebody to take you in when it's cold outside. Where will we be now? Lost. Me? I'm lost.”

Mentee’s friend said he worked hard to make Retta's the success that it has become in just five months.

“James did not look at nobody different everybody was my sister, my brother, my cousin, and he didn't have no favoritism towards nobody,” Jones said.

Running three businesses, he said, never stopped Mentee from lifting others up and helping them in their own business ventures.

“When you take someone like that, that's a chain reaction,” Jones said. “When you take that from somebody, you take it from other people. It affects others when you hurt somebody like him because that man was everything to everyone.”

He said Mentee was a man that leaves behind a legacy of kindness and inspiration.

“We're going to keep his name ringing. James, we love you man, we love you.”

Mentee had a wife and child. There will be a vigil being held for him at Retta’s on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Copyright 2019 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.