LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Family, friends and complete strangers came together Friday to honor the life of David McAtee, who was shot and killed by Kentucky National Guard members outside his barbecue restaurant in West Louisville.
The public visitation was held at St. Stephen Church for the man known to many as “YaYa.”
McAtee’s mother, Odessa Riley, was the first to enter the church. She led a group of about 50 family members in for a private viewing before the public was allowed inside. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer also attended the visitation, walking arm-in-arm with Riley as he paid his respects.
“His does have a legacy that I believe will live on," Odessa Riley’s goddaughter Brenda Brookins said. "Everybody that passes 26th and Broadway, anyone who has ever ate one of his ribs or ate one of his sausages will remember David, YaYa.”
McAtee was shot and killed on June 1, when Kentucky National Guard members and Louisville Metro police officers attempted to disperse a crowd at Dino’s Food Mart on 26th and Broadway, across the street from McAtee’s BBQ shack. Investigators believe McAtee fired two shots at law enforcement, who returned fire and hit him in the chest.
Since the shooting, McAtee’s nephew Marvin McAtee has assumed the responsibility of reopening the restaurant. As he came to pay his respects, he told WAVE 3 News he knows his uncle’s loss creates a hole he can never truly fill.
“I don’t even know how to explain it to you," McAtee said. "I just feel him in me when I’m in that shop. I know the connection from our friendship. Besides him being my family member, that friendship we got is unconditional.”
McAtee’s friends and family acknowledged there are still unanswered questions, but said they wanted to spend Friday remembering him for who they say he was - the linchpin of their family.
“He’s really going to be missed and it’s going to be a hole so deep that I don’t know how or who can even try to attempt to fill his shoes for what he’s done in our community," Odessa Riley’s niece Laketa Johnson said.
McAtee’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. at Canaan Christian Church."