Safeguards needed to halt shootings – restaurant security – editorial
Safeguards needed to halt shootings
A spate of robberies, shootings and killings in restaurants and fast-food units over the past year has focused attention on the dangers inherent in some of these operations.
Money lost in any of the robberies and the resultant higher insurance premiums are regrettable but of small consequence compared with physical injury or death and the inevitable fear that is generated.
The loss of even one life in these situations is too much. Some means must be found to reduce such risks, to make foodservice operations, convenience stores and other late-night places safer for customers and employees alike. We have no final answer for the dilemma, but operators must be alerted to the threat.
By the law of averages, such incidents are bound to occur occasionally. They seem to have proliferated over the past year, or perhaps it’s just that more are being reported publicly. Whether random or planned, shootings at or near restaurants are equally dangerous.
Just last month, in what police said was a drug-related incident, a man and an accomplice strode into the popular T.G.I. Friday’s on New York’s Upper East Side late one night and shot a customer (later identified as an ex-convict) in the head, killing him. The two escaped from the restaurant, firing shots and injuring two other customers.
In another type of incident last month, a Houston Pizza Hut assistant manager purportedly was beaten to death late at night while he was counting the day’s receipts in the office. His body was later found in the trunk of an abandoned car. Police charged two employees with murder and aggravated robbery.
Among other cases over the past year:
* Two men and a woman calmly had
dinner at a Steak & Ale restaurant
in Ft. Worth, Tex., on a Saturday
night and then shot and killed the
manager during an apparent
robbery attempt. * One customer was killed and four
were injured when a man kept firing
shots adjacent to Taco Bell’s and
Wendy’s counters at the upscale
Perimeter Mall in north Atlanta. * Police charged two boys described as
“model teen-agers” with first-degree
murder after a Domino’s Pizza
manager was shot and killed while
delivering an order in Largo, Md. Having
sensed something was wrong when
he knocked on the door, he ran back
to the car to give his girlfriend most
of his cash. He was shot when he
returned to the house. * In an early-morning robbery
attempt at a suburban Detroit Olive
Garden restaurant in Southgate,
Mich., the manager was shot and
killed and an employee was injured. * A dishwasher at Campisi’s Egyptian
Restaurant in Dallas was accused of
stealing money from the restaurant
after the owner, Joe Campisi, 72,
chased him and then collapsed and
died of a heart attack. * Gunmen kidnapped the girlfriend
and the roommate of the night
manager of a Chevys Mexican restaurant
in San Francisco and forced the
manager to give them the day’s receipts
before releasing their two hostages
from the trunk of the car they were
driving. * A young chef at the Capital Hilton in
Washington, D.C., was kidnapped by
two men after he left work and was
shot three times in the leg and once
in the back when he tried to escape
from their car. Confined to a
wheelchair since then, he is now a partner
in a hospitality personnel agency.
Extra vigilance is vital to prevent these types of attacks. For one thing, potential employees must be screened extra carefully so that they don’t become the robbers and shooters.
Solutions being tried by some latenight places include the use of armed guards or plainclothes security people. Making sure to keep at least a few employees on duty during late-night hours, rather than letting one or two employees remain alone, is also a sensible precaution. Bright lights outside and inside also might scare away thugs who like to strike in dark, lonely places.
Surely, foodservice operators would agree that it is better to give up the money and avoid any shooting or injury. But even this is not a final deterrent, as trigger-happy thugs might still fire at will. Lawlessness and drugs have become almost a way of life in too many cities, and foolproof preventives are difficult to devise.
In short, there is no foolproof method of completely preventing shootings and gunfire along with all the accompanying confusion and trauma. It might be advisable to call your local police department to find out what methods they would suggest for coping with this menace.
It is a fact of life that operators must be on guard and take reasonable precautions at all times. Yet we can’t let these terrifying sporadic incidents prevent customers from dining out and going about their normal activities.
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COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group