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Monday, July 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Club Sued for Killing at Hip-Hop Show

GALVESTON, Texas (CN) — Texas club owners didn't beef up security for a show featuring two rival rap groups and an aspiring emcee was shot in the head in a fight that could have been expected, his mother claims in court.

Lashendrea Lartigue sued New Beginnings LLC and its owner Edwin Shelton in Galveston County Court on behalf of her late son, Malik Lartigue-Pratt.

New Beginnings owns a hall in La Marque that hosted the Cookie Snow Talk Show on April 9, according to the May 12 complaint.

"Lavish Buffet Free Drinks 21 & Up Only," a Facebook ad for the event states.

Lartigue-Pratt was 18.

Described in his obituary as a "loveable teddy bear" who was "sincere about one day becoming a famous rap artist," Lartigue-Pratt was a senior at Ball High School in Galveston, his mother's attorney Cris Rasco said.

Rasco said in an interview that Shelton and New Beginnings "put profit over safety" and drew a big crowd, knowing it was a powder keg.

"The show featured two competing and potentially violent rap music groups whose members are believed to be prominent in local street gang activity," the lawsuit states.

Rasco told Courthouse News that New Beginnings typically notifies police about its events.

"It's a special-events place and it seems like it's pretty harmless or docile because they have weddings, receptions, you know, different things there," Rasco said.

"And whenever they have an event they usually, it was their habit, or custom, to tell the La Marque Police Department. The chief of police of La Marque told me they didn't tell them anything about this thing."

A fight broke out and spilled into a parking lot and Lartigue-Pratt jumped into his friend Nicholas McGill's car, according to the complaint.

McGill is also a defendant in the lawsuit. The mother claims that McGill had weapons in his car and knew the show could become violent.

"Rival groups fired several gunshots. Lartigue-Pratt was a passenger in the rear passenger side of McGill's vehicle when he received a gunshot wound to the back of his head," the complaint states.

He died three days later in the hospital.

His mother wants more than $1 million in punitive damages for gross negligence, premises liability and fraudulent misrepresentation.

Rasco said he does not know what gangs were involved.

"The pleading is a negligence pleading; it's just a notice pleading. It doesn't try to plead detailed facts. In Texas, notice pleadings are all you have to do; you have to allege negligence, allege the basic facts and put the defendants on notice of what you're suing them for, and marshaling of evidence is what you do in discovery," Rasco said.

A woman named Ethel Shelton answered the phone at Shelton's New Beginnings on Friday and said, "I don't have any information for you."

La Marque, pop. 15,000, is an hour southeast of Houston. Its median household income of $41,679 is nearly 20 percent below the statewide median of $51,704. It's a 10-minute drive from Texas City, a port city on Galveston Bay that's home to Texas' second-largest oil refinery, owned by Marathon Petroleum.

Rasco's office is in Texas City.

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