A wrong order at a Nashville McDonald’s could have ended in a deadly way after a customer pulled a gun over a missing cheeseburger. The incident occurred early in the morning at the Brick Church Pike branch on the Thursday before Christmas.
Workers reported the incident after the suspect left the McDonald’s premises. Detectives from the North Precinct of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department still seek the suspect, 21-year-old Demetri Johnson. He was not located at his previous address on Joseph Avenue in Nashville. Police issued alerts to ensure his swift arrest.
Alleged charges against Johnson include felony aggravated assault using a weapon. Not a newcomer to the legal system, Johnson’s record shows previous arrests for theft and weapon possession. Three women are also sought for information about the crime but are so far unidentified.
According to staff working that morning, nothing seemed out of sorts as Johnson received his food from the drive-thru and drove away. A short time later, he returned to the restaurant and reported that he was missing a double cheeseburger. The McDonald’s manager asked Johnson to park and wait until the item was delivered to him, as per standard procedure.
Apparently, this customer felt like his wait was too long because he stormed the McDonald’s just a few minutes later, pulling his hand gun and demanding the correction of his wrong order. Three women with him demanded fresh fries and new soft drinks. Staff cooperated with the demands and the four of them left. No one was hurt in the incident but Johnson and his accomplices remain at large.
This incident highlights the tension the fast food industry currently feels about armed customers. Both restaurant staff and other customers report feeling uneasy if a patron is carrying a firearm. Citing these safety and personal comfort concerns, some restaurants take a hard stand and ask customers to leave their guns at home. Starbucks, Chipotle and Sonic received criticism for their no-gun policies after issuing statements for customers to leave guns at home.
McDonald’s leaves the decisions regarding customers and firearms to individual franchises and has no company-wide policy on the issue. Managers are simply encouraged to follow local laws and customs. Dunkin’ Donuts also takes a neutral approach, claiming that franchises need to follow federal, state and local laws regarding firearms, but issues no specific instructions. Only three states completely ban guns in restaurants and bars.
Most Americans prefer that restaurants and retail establishments ban guns on their premises. One poll revealed 55 percent took this point of view. Among gun owners, 64 percent preferred being allowed to carry firearms. The preference is also divided on party lines, with 57 percent of those supporting open carry in public places being Republicans.
There is no indication that this recent event or overall public opinion will lead to a change of policy for McDonald’s and others who prefer a similar approach. The crime is the first one reported involving a customer pulling a gun over a wrong order.
Meanwhile, the priority now is to arrest and charge Johnson. Police ask anyone with information about his whereabouts or this crime to call 74-CRIME. He is considered dangerous and people should not approach him.
By Jocelyn Mackie
Photo by Mike Mozart – Flickr License