Geek News, March 15, 2006:
Two murdered, two wounded in maniac-shooting at Pismo Beach Denny's restaurant. Murderer then takes his own life.
I've been to Denny's restaurants before, and I never saw the "Free Fire Zone" sign.
What is it that causes people to go crazy in Fast-Food joints? Is it the food?
This isn't the first time that restaurant patrons have experienced random violence by an armed, unknown assailant. Here's a small sample of prominent examples:
In 1991, George Hennard drove his truck through the plate-glass windows of Luby's Restaurant in Houstan, Texas, and shot two dozen people before he killed himself. Wikipedia has a good summary of the incident, including the following:
Dr. Suzanna Gratia Hupp's parents were among the 24 killed by Hennard in the attack. Hupp possessed a gun but left it in her car in compliance with laws against carrying a concealed weapon; she felt that, had her gun been on her person, she could have prevented the tragedy or limited the casualties. Hupp has since crusaded successfully for a concealed carry law and was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1996.There's also a link to a 2001 Houston Chronicle article which provides some historical background and details I couldn't find anywhere else.
I also found a WorldNet Daily commentary by Tanya K. Metaska, dated June 1, 2000, which features this incident from the point-of-view of an "armed female".
A man went crazy in an Amarillo, Texas Denny's in January, 2003, and shot four police officers down (there to break up a fight!) before finally being killed by one of the wounded officers. The incident is also blogged here ... although the blogger apparently thinks the incident happened in San Antonio.
Armed Females of America presents a summary of fast-food shooting, including Denny's in Houston (2004) and San Diego (2003) ... as well as several Pizza Huts and the odd Tacueria. No authoratative newslinks (MSM) are provided, so I'll have to offer this as "anecdotal evidence" only.
These incidents include common factors:
- They all occurred in or near a 'fast food' restaurant, although I may be libelling the quality of food at Luby's -- I don't know, it's not a nationwide chain and I've never eaten there. (That Luby's has since been closed due to 'competition'.)
- They all involved seemingly motiveless murders, usually with multiple victims.
- "Assault Weapons" were not typically involved.
- At most of the restaurants, the victims were not able to protect themselves against random attack. The situation where four armed policemen were attacked and shot with pistols taken from the policemen is atypical; however, note that the rampage might have continued to include civilian victims, except that one of the wounded policemen ... the youngest, least experienced officer still in his 'probationary period' ... managed to shoot and kill his assailant despite having been wounded several times. One wonders if the officers could have been protected from their grevious wounds if an armed civilian had been present and had acted in their defense.
And they should.
This has been a quick survey of restaurant-related random murders in America. In truth, we would be able to make the same points in many other venues; including churches, schools and night-clubs. The places where people gather are focus points for random violence. The Conventional Wisdom is that these are places where firearms SHOULD be prohibited, either because the potential for maniacal attacks is increased (eg: nightclubs) or violence is unlikely to occur because 'everyone is un-armed' -- schools and churches are peaceful places, where peaceful people gather.
The true fact is that these are the very places which attract deranged murders, if only because they are confident that they will find no defenders.
Incidently, while researching this post I found an interesting article in the Lawrence, Kansas Journal-World (February 9, 2006) which discussed a proposed Concealed Carry law for Kansas in the light of a recent local shooting. The article itself is worth the read, but the real meat is to be found in the 113 comments submitted by readers. It's a fascinating summary of the entire concealed carry argument ... both sides ... with as much ignorance and bias to be found in any discussion of the subject. The participants obviously have passionate opinions, and express them with various degrees of authority and credibility.
UPDATE: March 17, 2006
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - A gunman opened fire early Friday at a Denny's restaurant, killing one man and seriously wounding another, police said. It was the third fatal shooting at the restaurant chain in Southern California this week.
The 2:45 a.m. shooting happened after a fight between two large groups inside the restaurant, said Sgt. Rick Martinez of the Anaheim Police Department.
One victim re-entered the restaurant after being shot and died inside, Martinez said. The other victim was taken to a hospital and was expected to survive.
The gunman was being sought by authorities. The shooting did not appear to be gang-related, Martinez said.
The shooting was the third in a Southern California Denny's in three days. In Pismo Beach on Wednesday, a transient with two guns walked into the restaurant at lunchtime, fatally shot two men and wounded a married couple before committing suicide.And in Ontario, a 37-year-old man was fatally shot in a Denny's parking lot Thursday after a fight. The gunman was still being sought.
I know this seems like I'm picking on Denny's Restaurants, but I'm not. I like the restaurant, and I often dine there when I'm travelling because I know I can count on the consistent quality of the food and service, and the cleanliness of the facility. It's not their fault that so many incidents occur at their ubiquitous franchises. The fact is, with 1,600+ restaurants in the chain, located all across the country (since 1953), they cover too much of the market not to be a prominent feature on America's streets.