An ordinary night at a Birmingham, Ala., McDonald’s erupted in chaos and tragedy after a masked gunman stormed the restaurant and began shooting Saturday, WIAT reported.
But a father, who was in the restaurant with his two sons waiting to be let outside, pulled out his own gun and returned fire, according to the station.
“Wrapping my head around it all, I was just wishing someone would come wake me up from this nightmare,” said Markus Washington, an employee who barricaded himself in the restaurant’s freezer, WBRC reported. “I was making two quarter-pounders and heard three shots ring, and then exchange of gunfire two more..”
The gunfire began shortly before 10:45 that night as an employee was unlocking the door to let the man and his sons out of the restaurant, which was closing, AL.com reported.
When a masked man burst into the restaurant and began shooting, the dad pulled out his own weapon, and a hail of gunfire washed over the restaurant. When it was over, the dad, the gunman and one of the two sons had been shot, according to WIAT.
Police arrived and took the three injured people to the hospital, where the gunman later died, WVTM reported. The father and son did not have life threatening injuries, according to the station.
“It’s truly sad, but it’s something as a community we can overcome,’‘ Birmingham police spokesman Sgt. Bryan Shelton said, according to AL.com. “We just have to work together to find a solution to our issues without resorting to violence. Right now it appears the victim made a decision that cost his life and the father made a decision that preserved his and children’s’ life.”
The employee who hid in the restaurant freezer called the father his “hero,” WBRC reported.
“Because I can only imagine how it would’ve went if he wasn’t armed,” he said, according to the station. “We might not be here having this interview.”
Police said they were not sure if the man was attempting to rob the McDonald’s or if he was targeting someone, WIAT reported. Police don’t expect the father to face charges.
“Things like this are difficult for both families. The gentleman who unfortunately lost his life, the teenage boy who is in the hospital recovering from his injuries and the father who is also recovering from his injuries,” Shelton said, according to WVTM. “It’s not easy being a father and watching your child get injured, get hurt like that. It’s a really heart-wrenching experience.”