Police arrest suspect in nightclub murder

January 14, 2008 6:34:01 PM PST
Chicago police say they've solved a summertime murder that occurred outside the controversial Chromium nightclub.The club in the West Loop was the subject of an ABC7 I-Team report before being shut down late last year.

The street corner shooting had plenty of witnesses. Everybody involved had just left Chromium on that early Sunday morning last August.

And just like every other weekend outside the Lake Street nightclub, dozens of Chicago police were on hand to break up drunken fistfights that made Lake and Halsted look like the Wild West.

Video shot the past few years by a resident who lives across the street from Chromium shows the violence under the El tracks. But on the morning of August 19 at 3:10 am, as police swarmed in front of the nightclub, five gunshots rattled in the darkness.

And even though police officers ran to the scene a block away, the shooter and his wheelman had sped off. And 28-year-old Omari Houston lay dying of gunshot wounds in his back. Witnesses said the shooter had been arguing with Houston a short time earlier inside the Chromium club.

"My understanding was the shooter was identified shortly after the incident, the police knew who committed the act and were looking for him," said Rajeev Bajaj, victim's friend, told the I-Team. "After you guys put the story on, people started talking about the case, and it got the attention we feel Omari's death deserved."

Twenty-three-year-old Bryant Buckhanan, a convicted drug offender and suspected gangbanger, according to authorities, is being held without bond on murder charges nearly five months after the pistol attack.

"I thought he'd be captured a lot sooner. He was arrested on the West Side of Chicago, so he stayed close to home," said Bajaj.

Buckhanan is a West Side native whose official residence is now listed in suburban Bolingbrook. He was due to appear in court the day after the murder on a gun charge. Authorities were still searching for the getaway car driver.

Even after the murder, Chromium remained open for several months, angering Kathy Kozan, who owns an art studio across the street and lives in the building. She earned the name Video Vigilante for tapes she made of the mayhem every weekend...and her relentless complaints to city officials.

Early last month, Chromium was closed down by city licensing officials.

"It's nice to have it over with, and there hasn't been one fight since then," said Kozan.

"Every time I talk to his family, we talk about how he lived and that this whole thing isn't going to bring him back," said Bajaj.

Neither the murder that resulted in the club being closed down, nor even the chronic street fighting got the club shut down. Chromium was shuttered by city officials because of liquor license violations. Technically; some other nightclub owner could seek city approval to move in there.