After a personal chef was shot dead at the South Beach club Mansion, the crowd scattered, jammed exits, and ran out onto Washington Avenue and into nearby clubs where patrons blended in with the dancing masses.
The chaos and cleanup that followed left the crime scene poisoned.
In the aftermath of Tuesday’s shooting and the fight that preceded it inside the club’s VIP section, tables were knocked around, couch pillows were tossed about, and glasses, bottles and napkins with potential fingerprints went airborne.
Then the Mansion cleaning crew — likely unaware anyone had been shot dead, police said — made matters worse by rearranging furniture, picking up bottles and sweeping away napkins and other debris.
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“The crime scene was contaminated,” said Miami Beach police spokesman Bobby Hernandez. “A crime scene tells a story.” Item contamination “takes away from the narrative.”
Adding to the difficulty of the police investigation: the death of Antaun Teasley, 42, a celebrated chef who cooked for professional athletes that include Miami Heat point guards Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers.
Teasley was found with a bullet in his upper torso by the club’s promoter, a personal friend, near an exit at Mansion, 1235 Washington Ave. He was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center, where he died.
“It’s like taking pieces of the puzzle away. It could be anything from a club bottle with glass that contains prints, to blood spats,” Hernandez said. “What has really set us back, too, is that the victim passed away.”
Hernandez said Mansion operators have been extremely cooperative, immediately handing over video from the club that evening.
“You see people, but it doesn’t show the crime, and it doesn’t show the fight,” he said.
According to police and eyewitness accounts, a fight broke out just past 3:30 a.m. between two groups in a roped-off section of the VIP area inside the club.
The fight was followed by a loud bang that some said blended in with the music. The DJ told the crowd it wasn’t a gunshot and to relax. His suggestion didn’t last long, and the throng headed to the exits.
On Wednesday, police still had no suspect or person of interest. They’re not even certain what the two groups were arguing about, or who was arguing. Police said they don’t even know if Teasley was involved in the fight.
Shootings at clubs in Miami Beach don’t happen often. Tuesday’s death was the first by gunfire since a man was shot and killed at the Heathrow Lounge, also on Washington Avenue, four years ago. Eight years ago, a bouncer was stabbed to death outside Mansion Nightclub.
Hernandez said police are looking into how someone brought a gun into the club. It’s illegal to have a gun in a Miami Beach establishment that serves alcohol. Police, though, don’t oversee security at the dozens of late night clubs across South Beach.
Each club has its own security policy, and Mansion declined to discuss the measures it takes to keep patrons safe.
Teasley, who left behind a teenage son, refers to himself as “Young Chef” on social media sites. The Cleveland native earned his culinary credentials in 2000, and has cooked for tennis superstar Serena Williams and record producer Timbaland.
Before the Heat’s lopsided loss at home to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of the NBA finals Tuesday, Chalmers, the team’s struggling point guard, called Teasley “a close friend.”