At the door of St. Stephen Church, people were let in one-by-one to pay their respects, after having their temperature checked to screen for the coronavirus. In line was Calvin Brown, who used to visit McAtee’s shop, Yaya’s BBQ. He said McAtee was a role model for people in this West End neighborhood, where many residents grapple with poverty.
“Even if you had a record, you could still look at David McAtee and say ‘I could do what you doing,'” Brown said.
Brown said McAtee made a business, and a neighborhood institution, out of very little.
“It was a barbecue grill, a bag of charcoal and some meat. And people supported him and felt the love that he shared,” he said.
McAtee was known for giving free food to the homeless, as well as to the police.
It’s still unclear exactly what happened the night he died. According to video shared by police, National Guard and officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department (LPMD) arrived at the corner of 26th Street and Broadway to enforce the curfew. Soon after authorities arrived, LMPD officers began shooting pepper balls. State investigators say McAtee fired his gun, and that when police and National Guard returned fire with live rounds, a National Guard bullet struck his chest, killing him.
McAtee’s nephew, Marvin McAtee, has said he doesn’t think his uncle would ever knowingly shoot at police. On Friday, he said he doesn’t know what justice would look like for his uncle, but he’s upset the family hasn’t gotten an apology.
“There’s no justice for me because that don’t bring him back,” Marvin McAtee said.
“I can’t change what happened that day. All I can do is tell the police I just wish they came and said they sorry for what happened, because we was there for them.”
Marvin has inherited the barbecue shop. And he said he’s trying his best to carry on his uncle’s legacy. It helps that he can still feel his uncle’s presence.
“A couple days ago, I was doing things at the shop, and then I paused for a minute because I hear him saying to me ‘You know you ain’t doing that right,'” he said.
“I love that energy in that shop because he’s there with me. You know? I don’t even know how to explain it to you. I just feel him in me when I’m in the shop.”
Marvin and his family went inside the chapel, where McAtee’s body was dressed in a white suit, in a gold and black coffin and surrounded by flowers.
Later, the family planned to go back to Yaya’s BBQ for another celebration of the man they loved.
The funeral for David McAtee is Saturday, Jun. 13 at 1 p.m. at Canaan Christian Church.