By Linda Looney-Bond
The lights were on, but no one was home at a Riverdale Waffle House restaurant that was still closed for business late Monday afternoon, after police say a gunman attempted to rob the establishment, and fled the scene early Sunday morning.
Around 4:30 p.m., Monday, the front door of the restaurant was locked, and the parking lot was empty. "They had hoped to re-open this morning. They have a little more clean-up to do," said Waffle House Spokesperson Kelly Thrasher, Monday afternoon. "They hope to be open as soon as they can," she said.
Riverdale Police Chief Samuel Patterson said "a single gunman, [who] appeared to be Hispanic, or a light-complexioned African American," attempted to rob the restaurant, located at 669 Ga. Hwy 138, around 12:30 a.m., Sunday.
The suspect entered the restaurant and, shortly after, pointed a gun at the ceiling and fired it, according to Patterson. "I guess to get everybody's attention, he discharged a round into the ceiling, and he directed everyone to get on the floor, face down, and they did so," Patterson said.
He said a manager then ran out of the back door of the restaurant, and was able to escape to a safe location, and call 911. Meanwhile, the gunman demanded that an employee open the cash register.
"The employee that he tried to get to open the cash register, did not have the ability to do so, so he poked the employee in the back with the gun. I guess the frustration caused the would-be robber to leave," Patterson said.
He said the suspect fled the scene in a car, but that a good description of the vehicle was not available, due to conflicting information.
Patterson said no one was injured, and no money was taken in the attempted robbery.
"We are trying to ascertain [surveillance] video tape, which would provide us some additional, evidentiary information," he said.
Patterson also said that earlier, before the gunman entered the restaurant, he attempted to rob a couple in the parking lot. "There was a couple that was leaving the Waffle House, getting into their car, and he initially accosted them, and directed them to give him their money. They failed to do so, and then, he walked into the Waffle House," Patterson said.
The gunman was wearing a "hoody" with the hood over his head, and a bandana covering the lower portion of his face, Patterson said. The suspect was described as "relatively short," around 5 feet, 4 inches, to 5 feet, 5 inches tall.
Anyone with information in the case, is asked to contact Detective Antoinette Cowell at (770) 909-5426.