A Waffle House employee was shot dead in Biloxi after telling a customer to put out his cigarette.
The 52-year-old waitress, Julia Brightwell was imposing a no smoking policy in the early hours of the morning. She died shortly after at a nearby hospital. The shooter is believed to be an ex-fireman suffering from a head trauma.
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Mississippi police say Johnny Max Mount shot 52-year-old Julia Brightwell in the head with a 9mm handgun at the chain restaurant in Biloxi.
She was taken to nearby Merit Health Biloxi hospital, but died a short time later.
Mount, 45, from Biloxi has been charged with first degree murder and is held on a $2m bond.
Biloxi Police Sergeant Donnie Dobbs said officers arrived at the scene of the shooting shortly after 1am on Friday. They say Mount was inside the restaurant and surrendered without incident.
Sergeant Dobbs said: “The individual was still sitting there and they took him into custody.”
Witness Richard Bonin said Ms Brightwell had served him and two friends just before she was shot and that she had asked the group if they had a good Thanksgiving.
Waffle House Server Was So Friendly
Sun Herald reports:
Biloxi police arrested Mount as he was walking out of the restaurant. They booked him into the Harrison County jail on a charge of first-degree murder. Justice Court Judge Albert Fountain set his bond at $2 million.
Corporate staff helping
Warner said that U.S. 90 Waffle House was smoke free. Some of the chain’s restaurants do allow smoking.
However, Waffle House prohibits firearms in its restaurants unless the customer works in a law enforcement field, or the military, Warner said.
Corporate personnel came to Biloxi as soon as they learned of the shooting.
He said they are helping out so distraught employees could stay home if they wished. Some, he said, chose to come in. The restaurant was closed while Biloxi police investigated the crime, but then reopened.
“We have lined up some grief counseling for the employees as well,” Warner said. “We are going to help the employees any way we can. We are giving them space right now.”
‘She was so friendly’
Customer Richard Bonin said she served him and his two friends just before she was shot.
“I was just in shock when I found out,” he said. “It gave me the chills. It’s just a weird feeling to think we might have been her last customers.”
Bonin said he often goes to that Waffle House because “it’s my favorite.”
He said he and his friends stopped in to eat shortly before midnight.
“She was so friendly,” he said. “She sat down and talked to us. It wasn’t too busy then, just a few more people in booths.”
She asked Bonin and his friends if they were having a good Thanksgiving. “She told us she was tired, but she was making the whole conversation about us,” he said.
“I just can’t believe this,” he said. “She was honestly so nice.”
Mount has no felony record, but he does have misdemeanor violations.
People lit up Twitter and Facebook on Friday asking about him, wondering what could have set him off or what the issue was. Was it just about smoking?
‘Not a monster’
Rebecca Berry, a friend of Mount’s family, said it’s tradition for her and her family to take a break during post-Thanksgiving shopping to eat at a Waffle House. This year was no different.
She said the same waitress served them.
“She came to us and talked to us,” Berry said. “She asked us about our shopping and if we had gotten any good deals.”
When they pulled out, she said, she noticed several other cars pulling in.
Berry was at a store in D’Iberville when she received an alert about the fatal shooting and the man arrested in the case. “I knew the name immediately,” she said. “I am friends with his family.”
Berry said she’s spoken to his family and they are devastated.
Mount, she said, “was not a monster,” but instead suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was injured in an accident years ago.
On Christmas Eve 2002, Mount was standing in the middle of the southbound lanes of U.S. 49 about 2:30 a.m. when he was hit by a 1997 Taurus. Gulfport police told the Sun Herald then they did not know why he was standing in the road and the accident was “unavoidable.” The driver was not charged.
Read more here: sunherald.com/news/local/crime
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