Crime Scenes

Horror Stories: The Thirteen Most Terrifying Restaurant Standoffs
Trouble at an Arizona Baja Fresh in 2011.

It might seem like a rare occurrence, but leaving the house to grab a quick bite can turn into a drawn-out tragedy of terrifying proportions when a random robber or crazed gunman hits the same restaurant you do. The scary thing: This is happening more and more often these days. This past weekend, masked men assaulted patrons in a restaurant outside Chicago. Last week, Savannah, Georgia’s Olde Pink House restaurant was the site of a nerve-shredding standoff between a police SWAT team and an armed suspect in a failed kidnapping plot. That followed a sick scenario just last month when a man horrifically gunned down his entire family at a Cleveland Cracker Barrel. Sadly, these kinds of horror stories are really nothing new. Bomb scares, hostage situations, and straight-up mass murders have plagued our nation’s restaurants. Here now, a chilling look back at fourteen of the most horrifying, fear-inducing incidents to date.

Last fall, while checking in on the ladies’ room at Adi’s Coney Island diner in Detroit, an employee picked up a bottle near one of the toliets. Seeing wires sticking out of it, her boss noticed it was a bomb, causing panic as the neighborhood was closed down and a bomb squad detonated the homemade device of glass and gasoline inside of a nearby car wash.
Last year, a San Antonio man became enraged to find Taco Bell’s 99-cent burritos inflate by 50 cents. So he did the natural thing and fired an airgun off at the cashier, then showed off a real assault rifle and pistol before fleeing. He was arrested following a three-hour standoff at a nearby motel.
In 1996, a 19-year-old Bellevue, Wisconsin man held his 17-year-old assistant manager at gunpoint for ten hours, releasing her before six more hours that lead to his surrender. As if that summer job didn’t suck enough already. Photo: Michael Smith
In 2011, Arizona police chased Adam Hernandez into a Phoenix-area department store, convinced he was a different suspect.  Hernandez jumped into a Baja Fresh and started shooting at police. While most patrons fled, three employees were trapped in the restaurant during a standoff with police that ended with his surrender and the three employees walking out alive. Photo: Matt York/AP2011
Since 2010, more than one professional criminal has taken to impersonating POTUS to rob a fast-food restaurant. This year a man in Florida wearing an Obama mask herded employees into an office while robbing the store, no doubt scarring them as both workers and voters. Photo: Splash News/????
At the height of Domino’s Pizza’s “Avoid the Noid” ads, one Kenneth Lamar Noid took the commercials personally and was convinced the chain was out to get him. He showed up at an Atlanta location and held two employees hostage at gunpoint for almost six hours. During the tense situation, Noid forced the staffmembers to make him a pizza before they escaped and he surrendered, eventually getting off the hook for reasons of insanity.
In early 2012, a woman in her late forties used a gun to evacuate a McDonald’s in Willowick, Ohio. She then pressed the weapon into the manager’s back and walked out for a standoff that lasted about five minutes when the woman shoved the manager out of her way and caught a bullet from a local cop. She survived.
In 2002, Steven Johnson burst into Bar Veloce in New York’s East Village and took fifteen employees and guests hostage. Possibly raging about race, he shot three victims (including a neighboring restaurateur who looked in) and doused several more in kerosene, threatening to turn the wine bar into a massacre until he was subdued by a few of his would-be victims. Photo: Splash News/?
After accompanying his friend to a Hot Springs, Arkansas McDonald’s to help confront another man in November 2011, Edmund Morris was hit in the face with a flammable liquid and set on fire when the guy he had no prior beef with threw a lighter at him, leading to the amputation of his left hand and burns over half of his body. Photo: JIM WATSON/2012 AFP
During a family birthday party in April, Katherina Allen chose the occasion to tell her husband she was leaving him. After leaving the restaurant, Kevin Allen came back with a shotgun and fired upon his wife and two daughters. He was killed by police at the scene, while his only surviving daughter just passed last week from her injuries. Photo: unknown
In 1993, police made a gruesome discovery when they found two murdered employees in the walk-ins and five dead in the freezer at this Illinois restaurant. It took nine years for Juan Luna to confess that he and a high school friend had shot six in a botched robbery attempt after he cut the throat of an owner after she opened a safe. Photo: MARK ELIAS/1993 AP
In 1984, James Oliver Huberty took three guns into a McDonald’s, shot 21 people dead, and wounded 19 during a 77-minute massacre that ended when a SWAT sniper took him out. It was at the time considered the nation’s biggest one-man, single-day massacre. Photo: Anonymous/AP1985
In 1991, another attack on a fast-food restaurant set the record for the biggest single-gunman mass-murder when George Jo Hennard drove his truck into Luby’s cafeteria in Texas, then got out and shot indiscrimintaely at a crowd of 80 diners, killing 23. When police came to the scene, the killer turned his gun on himself, ending the horrific murder spree. Photo: Rick McFarland/1991 AP
Horror Stories: The Thirteen Most Terrifying Restaurant Standoffs