Louisville Man Killed During Protests as Authorities Opened Fire Was 'Community Pillar' Who Fed Police for Free

The Kentucky restaurant owner who died in a shooting on Monday amid protests in Louisville over the death of George Floyd was dedicated to helping the community.

The 53-year-old chef offered free food to those in need at neighborhood events as well as police officers, The Louisville Courier Journal reports.

David McAtee, the owner of Yaya's BBQ Shack, was killed during an exchange of gunfire that broke out as Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officers and members of the National Guard attempted to break up a group of protesters.

Described as a "community pillar," McAtee's mother, Odessa Riley, said her son "fed the police and didn't charge them nothing."

"He left a great legend behind. He was a good person. Everybody around him would say that. My son didn't hurt nobody. He didn't do nothing to nobody," she told The Louisville Courier Journal.

"My son was a good son. All he did on that barbecue corner is try to make a dollar for himself and his family. And they come along and they killed my son," she added.

Greg Cotton Jr., from Middletown, Kentucky, told The Louisville Courier Journal: "Mr. McAtee would help us with Californian Day for at least 15 years if not longer. He was one of the ones who would donate all his time and all his food, everybody could just come up and take it, and he wouldn't charge because it was for the neighborhood."

"There are only a handful of people who care about the community the way that he did," said Cotton Jr.

Louisville Metro Council President David James, who described McAtee as a personal friend, noted: "He's just a good, decent person. He believes in this neighborhood. He loves his city, loves his neighborhood, loves to cook food, loves to keep people happy with his sense of humor. He's just a great guy."

After living in Atlanta, McAtee returned to his native city of Louisville about eight years ago. Recalling her son to be a good cook growing up, Riley said, "When a mother loses her child, a piece of you goes along with that child."

Riley said she buried her "baby daughter on January 22," and "now my baby son has gotten killed."

The officers involved in the shooting that led to McAtee's death were reported to have not had their body cameras activated during the time of the gunfire.

"That lack of institutional failure will not be tolerated," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said during a Monday news conference.

LMPD Chief Steve Conrad was fired on Monday, while two LMPD officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave.

The Louisville office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Kentucky State Police and the U.S. Attorney's Office have launched an investigation into McAtee's death, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, Russell Coleman, confirmed in a post Monday on his official Twitter account.

Louisville, Kentucky, police, May 2020
Police officers in riot gear stand in formation at a cross street as they make their way to where protesters are gathered on May 30, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. Getty Images