Social media campaign led to Fresno murder, lawsuit claims

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A Fresno bar's marketing blamed for murder. Its social media campaign killed, according to the man left behind. (KFSN)

A Fresno bar's marketing blamed for murder. Its social media campaign killed, according to the man left behind.

"It's like putting bait out for rats and then being stunned when rats show up and leave a mess," said Kara Hitchcock, the attorney for Herman Tatum.

Police say a known gang member shot and killed Janee Tatum at Crossroads bar last March. Herman Tatum is pointing the blame at the bar and its owners. He says Crossroads created a culture of violence that led to his wife's murder. Even state regulators decided the bar posed a danger to the community and shut it down.

Graphic video tells the story of a gang-related attack outside the Central Fresno bar in the first week of March 2014. Two weeks later, inside the bar, life as he knew it ended for Herman Tatum. He says a gang member who was hitting on his wife pulled a gun and shot her.

"For her to not be able to talk to me, me to not be able to hear her, it's killing me," Tatum told Action News shortly afterwards.

The widower filed a lawsuit Monday, claiming the bar should've known it was inviting a crime like the one that killed Janee Tatum. Between the gang fight earlier in March and other incidents, six people had suffered serious injuries at Crossroads in the first 80 days of the year. And in a quick trip through the bar's social media sites, Tatum's attorney says she found several photos with prominent gang signs. A few even have you looking down the barrel of an imaginary gun.

"Crossroads promoted a culture of violence," Hitchcock said. "They profited from a culture of violence. Janee Tatum and her family paid the price for that."

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) suspended Crossroads' license for a short time in 2013, essentially for allowing the place to be dangerous. When it reopened, the violence eventually escalated. And after Janee Tatum's murder, ABC shut the place down.

"If they had closed it down sooner, Herman Tatum would still have his beautiful wife," Hitchcock said. "Kids would still have their mama."

We reached out to the former owners of crossroads, but they didn't return our calls for comment.

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