Brookhaven Police are investigating a triple shooting that left one person dead early Aug. 5.

Police responded to a call about a fight outside Acapulco Tropical in the 3300 block of Buford Highway in Northeast Plaza about 2 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5, and reported multiple shots were fired.

Three victims with gunshot wounds were found throughout the shopping center parking lot, according to police. Two victims were transported to area hospitals and are expected to survive, police said. The third victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police identified on Aug. 6 the person killed as Kevin Carranza Acosta, 21, from Brookhaven.

The two other victims were Javier Lira, 42, from Norcross and Paula Gaitan Romero, 45, of Chamblee.

Officer Carlos Nino with the Brookhaven Police Department said the early investigation indicates that a suspect vehicle pulled up to a taxi with a driver and three passengers in the back seat outside the Acapulco restaurant and bar. Police do not know if the victims or suspects were inside Acapulco before the shooting started, he said.

When someone in the suspect car revealed a weapon, the taxi driver tried to drive away toward the new Quick Trip under construction near Northeast Plaza, according to Nino.

The suspect vehicle then followed the taxi and started firing at the back of the taxi, killing Acosta, one of the backseat passengers, with a gunshot to the back. The taxi driver, Lira, was shot in the shoulder, Nino said.

The suspect vehicle then drove back toward Acapulco and started firing again, injuring Romero who was sitting in a car. She suffered a gunshot to the arm. Nino said Romero and Lira did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

“We don’t know the motive,” Nino said. “We’re trying to determine where they were” before the shooting.

There is no description of the suspect vehicle and Nino said police are hoping someone will come forward with help in finding the suspects.

The city in April changed last call at establishments serving alcohol from 3 a.m. to 2 a.m. to try to lessen what they say are rising crime rates on Buford Highway.

The city also overhauled its alcohol ordinance this year to create “entertainment venues” — places with DJs, dance floors or stages. Establishments with one or more of the three criteria are now required to pay a $100,000 alcohol license fee rather than the traditional approximate $5,000 a year. They are also not allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays.

The city created the “entertainment venues” category because they say these kinds of businesses are causing the most crime in the city. Most of the businesses are located in and near the Northeast Plaza shopping center on Buford Highway. Many police incidents are reported in their parking lots.

To cover the costs of providing extra police coverage, the city said it needed to charge the exorbitant fees to pay for those resources.

Acapulco Tropical was once considered an entertainment venue by the city, but after the owner of the venue agreed to enter into a special agreement with the city to remove its DJ booth and dance floor, the city again classified it as a restaurant and required to only pay an approximate $5,000 alcohol license fee.

City spokesperson Burke Brennan has said that removing DJ booths, dance floors and stages is part of several measures the city has instituted to reduce crime, such as also cutting back bar hours.

In April, boxing legend Floyd Mayweather’s body guard was shot in Buckhead outside a hotel after leaving a Brookhaven Buford Highway nightclub.

Anyone with information about the Aug. 5 shooting is asked to contact Brookhaven Police. Tips may be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta, and persons providing information may be eligible for a reward. Tips should be submitted online at: or by calling: 404-577-TIPS (8477).

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.