Crime

Deep Ellum Bar Closed for the Weekend After Bartender Arrest, Social Media Fury

High and Tight Barber Shop on Friday afternoon
High and Tight Barber Shop on Friday afternoon Beth Rankin
High and Tight Barber Shop and Bar in Deep Ellum is closed for the weekend, according to its owners, after two days of social media rage against the business following an alleged assault by one of its employees Thursday.

The bar's owners announced the closing in a now-deleted Facebook post condemning the attack as well as the social media storm that has followed. "We will be closed this weekend due to the media attack we are facing from the recent incident involving an ex employee of ours," the post reads. "High And Tight is in no way okay with what Austin Shuffield has done, that including anyone past and/or present in the high and tight crew."

One of High and Tight's owners, Braxton Martin, confirmed to the Observer on Saturday morning that the bar would remain closed through the weekend before reopening Monday. The bar elected to take down the post, as well as High and Tight's whole Facebook page, because Martin and the bar's co-owners could no longer manage the comments that were coming in.

A video recorded early Thursday appears to show Shuffield, who was then employed as a bartender at High and Tight, beat a woman after she blocked the entrance to a parking lot after driving the wrong way on Elm Street in Deep Ellum. Shuffield — who can be seen holding something that looks like a gun in his right hand in the longer of two available cuts of the video — appears to confront the woman and slap her cellphone out of her hand. She then throws a punch at Shuffield's head, before Shuffield repeatedly punches the woman, knocking her to the ground.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by KXAS-TV, police found a .45-caliber handgun and a knife in Shuffield's truck following the altercation. Police charged Shuffield with misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury and interference with an emergency call, according to Dallas County records. He was booked into Dallas County jail Thursday and has since been released on $2,000 bail.

Soon after the alleged assault, video of the incident went viral online, leading to thousands of negative and frequently threatening comments on High and Tight's business page as well as its employees' personal pages. Online vigilantes threatened to stomp one bartender "with Austin," and Next Generation Action Network's Dominique Alexander threatened to "shut Deep Ellum down" if the Dallas County District Attorney's Office doesn't charge Shuffield with aggravated assault.
click to enlarge
Austin Shuffield's mug shot
Dallas County


Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot said Friday that his office hadn't had anything to do with the charges filed against Shuffield so far.

"The magistrate judge on duty was solely responsible for the bond amount. The police filed the case as misdemeanor assault, not the DA," Creuzot said in a Facebook post. "The DA’s office is not even yet in possession of the case file from DPD and the police have not completed their investigation."

The woman allegedly assaulted by Shuffield hasn't been identified and has hired civil rights attorney Lee Merritt. In a statement Friday, Merritt said Shuffield should be charged with a hate crime, in addition to aggravated assault, because he used racial slurs during the beating.

"Our office is speaking with the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas County District Attorney's office to ensure all appropriate charges are pursued, including felony assault, firearm and hate-crime related charges," Merritt said in a statement.

Clarification: March 25, 9 a.m. — When the Observer posted this article on Saturday, we failed to note the object, apparently a handgun — that can be seen in Shuffield's hand in the longer version of the video. We've updated the relevant paragraph in the story.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young