DALLAS, TEXAS – Parents of another promising young life cut short by gun violence are suing the hotel that allowed an underaged person to rent a hotel room. Seventeen-year-old Tony Evans, Jr., a star athlete who looked forward to playing for the Wyoming Cowboys on a football scholarship next fall, will not live out his college dreams because he was fatally shot at an underage hotel party that his parents say should have never been permitted. Evans, Jr., a senior wide receiver at Lancaster High School in Dallas, with 13 catches for 268 yards and four touchdowns on the year, was shot and killed on April 11, 2021, at the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Hotel near Dallas Love Field Airport. The family of the slain high school senior has hired The Witherspoon Law Group.
“Placing profits above people and safety should not be tolerated in our society,” said Nuru Witherspoon, attorney for the family of Tony Evans, Jr. “This hotel is known for regularly permitting underage patrons to rent rooms and check in despite its policy forbidding it. We have concerns about the hotel’s business practices and standards and are fighting for this family as a result of the entity’s negligence.”
“Based on our initial investigation, this Hawthorn Suites location not only has an age restriction policy for renting and checking into rooms, but it also has a policy against parties and large gatherings in rooms. Guests are to be at least 21 years old with valid state-issued identification to check in and receive a room key,” said Witherspoon. “Against the hotel’s own policy, a 20-year-old was permitted to rent and occupy room 221 for purposes of an underage party, and Tony Evans, Jr. lost his life because the hotel failed to follow their own policies and procedures. That is negligence, plain and simple.”
The Witherspoon Law Group’s initial investigation reveals the following:
- The Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, located at 7900 Brookriver Drive, Dallas, Texas 75347, has no regular security presence or patrol at the premises, despite its location in a higher crime area. There is also a lack of adequate access controls to the premises, even during late hours, to deter criminal elements from the property.
- A Hawthorne Suites employee witnessed at least six young men going into room 221 prior to midnight. At around midnight, the same employee witnessed an additional group of young women enter room 221. At the time of the shooting, there were at least twelve people in the room.
- The hotel also has a policy against parties being held in rooms. At least 12 young people were having a party in room 221 at the time of the shooting. Despite witnessing a significant number of people enter room 221, no action was taken prior to the shooting in contravention of the hotel’s own policies and procedures. Shooting began around 1:30 a.m. after the assailant arrived, resulting in Evans’ death and severe injuries to another young person.
- Hawthorne Suites’ general manager was on site at all relevant times. The hotel has no security guards or specially trained security personnel posted or patrolling on the night of the shooting or otherwise. Had Hawthorne Suites followed its own policies and procedures, the shooting would have never occurred. Not only did Hawthorne Suites fail to properly train its employees and/or failed to adequately implement its own workplace policies and procedures relevant to preventing the shooting at issue and the risks associated with large gatherings in hotel rooms, but Hawthorne Suites further failed to take adequate security measures to protect the premises, including but not limited to, regular security detail and access controls, to prevent or deter violent crime from occurring on its premises.
The Witherspoon Law Group is filing a lawsuit today, seeking $25 million in damages as a result of Tony Evans, Jr.’s, untimely and preventable death.