Work in Sports
A post-Super Bowl night out ends in two friends' deaths
Posted: Friday March 03, 2000 02:04 PM
By John Donovan, CNNSI.com
ATLANTA -- In a corner of Decatur's Barber and Braid Shop, which sits in a well-worn area east of downtown Atlanta, a red smock is draped over a barber chair in a makeshift memorial for Richard Lollar.
On the smock lies a program from the memorial service for Lollar. The "Homegoing Services," it says.
Rich Lollar came to Atlanta from Akron with a dream to own his own hairstyling shop. In the meantime, he was working at the shop in Decatur, sometimes putting in 12- or 14-hour days. He and his fiancée were expecting their first child.
On January 31, Lollar and a friend, aspiring artist Jacinth Baker, were stabbed to death on an Atlanta street. Three men, including Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens, are charged with the killings.
Lollar was a social sort, a young man who liked people and liked to talk to people. When you cut people's hair for a living, being social is a big part of your life.
"You got direct association with the public. You're dealing with people every day," said his boss and friend, James "Silk" Wikerson. "It's easy to see, easy to determine what kind of person you are. That's why so many people knew Rich as being a good person, and not the kind that would create a situation that would lead up to something like that."
On the Saturday before Super Bowl XXXIV, which was to be held at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Wilkerson and Lollar had talked about watching the game on TV together. But, as an ice storm pelted Atlanta and a forecast of snow dominated the news, the two decided to check back with each other on Sunday.
It was the last time they'd talk.
On Sunday night, Lollar and his buddy Baker went out instead. The two were high school friends in Akron and both lived in Decatur. Baker, known as "Shorty" to his friends, frequented the shop where Lollar worked. The two often went out together.
That night, they were meeting some friends from Akron who were in town for the game. Although neither Lollar nor Baker was a huge football fan, they wanted to show their friends the city.
Buckhead, an eclectic neighborhood filled with bars and nightclubs and restaurants situated in the heart of Atlanta a few miles north of downtown, was the logical place to be. For thousands of revelers in the morning hours after Super Bowl XXXIV, it was the only place to be.
"It was the Super Bowl," said Lollar's brother, Curtis Tucker. "They just wanted to be out, I guess."
According to some reports, the upscale Cobalt Lounge, which was charging as much as $100 to get in that night, was the last place Baker and Lollar stopped.
Somehow, as the Cobalt closed and patrons were being ushered into the street, Baker and Lollar got involved in a confrontation. Dozens of people were in the street. At least one witness has said she saw several men beating the two men less than two blocks away from the Cobalt.
Moments later, Baker and Lollar were bleeding to death near a curb at the corner of East Paces Ferry and Grandview Avenue. A black stretch limousine sped away.
Lollar died at the scene. Baker died en route to the hospital.
At the barbershop where Lollar worked, a photo sits propped against the mirror in front of the chair with the red smock. Lollar and Wilkerson pose together in the shot. The words "Friends Forever" ring the photo.
"It shouldn't have happened to him," Wilkerson said of Lollar. "It shouldn't happen to anybody."