Safeguards needed to halt shootings – restaurant security

Safeguards needed to halt shootings – restaurant security – editorial

Charles Bernstein

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.

COPYRIGHT 1990 Reproduced with permission of the copyright holder. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group