Inside one of South Beach’s most popular nightclubs, music pounded, drinks flowed and revelers danced deep into the night until Monday became Tuesday morning.
And then, in the cordoned-off VIP section of Washington Avenue’s club Mansion, police say a fight broke out between two parties, followed by a loud “bang” that some in the club said was almost indistinguishable from the house music.
“I was like there’s no way on earth that this is gunshots,” clubber Nefeteri Tomalo told Miami Herald news partner CBS4. “The DJ was like ‘No it’s not a gunshot, everybody just relax.’”
Except police say it was a gun. And the shot that Tomalo heard struck and killed Antaun Teasley, 42, and sent people streaming out of the venue at 1235 Washington Ave.
The brazen 3:40 a.m. shooting inside a nightclub was unusual, even for a party city where police routinely are called to handle problems at clubs. Teasley, found collapsed near an exit, was also an acquaintance of Mansion honcho Roman Jones, and a beloved personal chef to some South Florida athletes, including two Miami Heat players.
“It’s a tragedy,” said Jones, managing partner of Opium Group, which runs Mansion and several other South Beach clubs. “It’s definitely a tragedy for him and his family.”
Jones said Mansion was cooperating with police, but he didn’t have enough details about the shooting to comment on what happened. By Tuesday night, police also had little to share after interviewing more than a half-dozen witnesses about the shooting.
No suspects. No persons of interest.
“We’ve just got two groups of people in the same VIP section. There was one side and another side. They got into an argument and there was only one gun supposedly,” said Sgt. Bobby Hernandez, a police spokesman. “We’re trying to identify the groups that were there and identify the subjects.”
As police hunted for details, friends of Teasley, including former Miami Hurricanes football players Warren Sapp and Bryant McKinnie, poured out their emotions on social media. Miami Heat point guard Mario Chalmers also posted condolences to Instagram, and told reporters he’d personally hired Teasley as a chef.
“He was just a close friend,” Chalmers said before the Heat’s NBA Finals game against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night. “He was my chef when I first got out here [to Miami]. So it's tough. My condolences to his family and to him, to his kids.”
Teasley, who leaves behind a teenage son, was also a personal chef for point guard Norris Cole, for whom the chef served up sweet potato frittata, house-made turkey sausage and a house-made raspberry vinaigrette Monday evening.
The man who called himself “Young Chef” liked to wear Heat gear, and posted a picture of himself wearing a Heat championship ring just days before he died.
Teasley ran Young Chef Catering. According to a biography on his website, he was a Cleveland native who began working as a chef in South Florida after earning his culinary credentials in 2000, and cooked meals for high-profile athletes and figures around the country, including tennis champ Serena Williams and record producer Timbaland.
In the mid-2000s, he spent about six years working as the live-in chef for former Heat player Ricky Davis and his then-wife, according to Vanessa Ramirez.
“He became a part of our family,” she said.
Shawn Credle, a friend and neighbor, said Teasley wasn’t someone who got into fights.
“He was always positive and thanking God for his blessings,” Credle said. “If anything, he was trying to break up something.”
Hernandez said police don’t yet know if Teasley was physically involved in the fight, other than that he was with a group that got into an altercation. Hernandez said the wounded Teasley was taken to Ryder Trauma Center where he died.
It’s also not clear how the shooter was able to bring a gun into Mansion. Hernandez said it’s illegal to bring a gun into a club where alcohol is served, but Jones and Opium Group spokeswoman Vanessa Menkes declined to speak about Mansion’s security measures.
Tuesday’s shooting isn’t the first time Mansion has been the background for a killing. Eight years ago, a club bouncer was fatally stabbed outside the club while trying to break up a fight.
The club is also no stranger to police, who were called to Mansion 344 times last year, mostly for non-violent incidents, according to police records first requested by the Random Pixels blog and provided Tuesday to The Herald. But Miami Beach politicians said Tuesday that Opium Group has been an exemplary club operator, and characterized the shooting as an isolated, unfortunate incident.
Police said it’s likely Teasley’s death is the first to result from a shooting inside a club since someone died in gunfire at Washington Avenue’s Heathrow Lounge four years ago.
“It goes to the broader issue of how do we get rid of guns?” said Mayor Philip Levine. “I don’t think it’s a club issue or a Miami Beach issue.”