CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago police officials said Monday that a high speed hit-and-run that killed three men outside a well-known South Shore gay bar appears to be an intentional attack.
Now some groups are calling for the triple fatal to be investigated as a hate crime.
The horrific crash, captured on video, shows a driver of a sedan racing down 7700 South Jeffery, slamming into several men in front of The Jeffery Pub, a long-time and very popular gay bar.
The video, taken from a nearby car, shows the men were in the middle of the street fighting at 5 a.m.
The victims were upended and thrown everywhere.
The three victims were identified as 25-year old Donald Huey, 27-year-old Devonta Vivetter and 23-year-old Jaylen Ausley, who was a recent University of Michigan graduate.
"It hurts, it hurts a lot," said cousin Curtis Henderson.
Henderson said Ausley was a great student, a mentor to many kids and very involved in the community.
"If any involvement I know that Jaylen was there, diffusing the situation. That's his personality. He's never been in any trouble. He's never gotten into anything. He's been on the straight and narrow his entire life," he said..
A person inside the bar is suspected of leaving and mowing down the men on the street. That suspect is not in custody, but authorities have the vehicle they believe was used in the hit-and-run.
"It is not being investigated as a hate crime at this time. We don't have any evidence to support that somebody was trying to harm these individuals because of their race, religion, etc. at this time, because we don't have a suspect in custody and we don't have any information that somebody stated that. So active ongoing investigation, and that can change once we get more witnesses and a suspect in. Everything can change based upon those statements," said Brendan Deenihan, Chicago Police Chief of Detectives.
The I-Team spoke with Victoria Kirby York, the deputy executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition in Washington, which is calling for the incident to be investigated as an LGBTQ+ hate crime outside one of the oldest and longest continuously running Black gay bars in the nation.
"We do know and law enforcement often are resistant to filing hate crimes charges because there's a very high burden of proof that has to be met. That goes into intent, motive, etc.," she said. "We also know that the person who slaughtered 49 people at the Pulse nightclub was a visitor at the nightclub several times before that massacre, and I was there in the aftermath of that attack. And so what, what we know is that often people will stake out our clubs for various purposes."
The National Black Justice Coalition is concerned the South Shore hit-and-run falls into a pattern of similar deadly attacks in the metropolitan Chicago area. They've tracked seven Black transgender women murdered the past two years. All of those cases remain unsolved.