true crime

Man charged in hit-and-run outside Chicago gay bar that killed three men

Tavis Dunbar
Tavis Dunbar (Photo: Chicago Police Department)

Cops in Chicago have charged a man in connection with a fatal hit-and-run killing. It took place outside one of the city’s best-known gay bars, Jeffrey Pub, in the early hours of Sunday, August 14th. The incident left three men dead and another fighting for his life.

Video from local CCTV cameras caught what happened. The horrific footage soon spread on social media. It showed a car striking the four men at 60mph and sending them flying.

The men killed were Jaylen Ausley, 23, Devonta Vivetter, 27, and Donald Huey, 25. Authorities have not named the 22-year-old man who was seriously injured.

Related: Chicago police & families search for answers after hit-and-run kills 3 outside Black gay bar

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said Tavis Dunbar, 34, was arrested on Monday and charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree attempted murder.

Dunbar, accompanied by a lawyer, turned himself into the police.

Authorities believe he intentionally drove his car at the men.

However, Dunbar has offered no motive for his alleged actions. Police say he “invoked his right to remain silent.”

Brendan Deenihan, the department’s chief of detectives, told reporters yesterday, “We do not have any evidence to support that this was a hate crime at this time.”

He also said cops knew Dunbar was in the gay bar before setting off for his car. Some sort of fight kicked off in the bar which then spilled into the street. However, cops are unclear what role Dunbar, if any, played in this.

Tavis Dunbar tracked via CCTV and witnesses

They were able to track Dunbar via CCTV footage, saying it showed him in his cousin’s car stopping a few blocks after the incident. He paced up and down outside the vehicle, speaking on his cellphone, before going into a nearby apartment block where a friend lived. Several witnesses also identified him.

At a hearing yesterday, Judge Susana Ortiz ordered Dunbar held without bail.

Related: Petition demands ‘Boystown’ in Chicago change its name to be more inclusive

Dunbar’s lawyer, Robert Kerr said, “This very well could be a case in which the driver panicked and failed to report what was a very unfortunate accident.” He believes prosecutors may struggle to prove their first-degree murder charges.

Prosecutors, however, pointed out Dunbar has twice served prison sentences for violent crimes. Most recently, in 2012, he beat his 11-year-old brother with a curtain bar and choked him. This landed Dunbar with a two-year sentence.

They also say the car’s ‘black box’ showed what was going on as it sped toward the men.

“The accelerator was depressed 99% and (Dunbar) never once touched the brakes … (He) essentially slammed on the gas pedal as he drove directly into four human beings.”