Lawton_Police are calling a shooting at Denny's, on Cache Road in Lawton, gang related. Witnesses say it happened early Sunday morning in the parking lot of the 24 hour restaurant. And the former security guard - who prefers to remain anonymous - witnessed it from across the street. Officers say Christopher Steward was shot at least four times but is not cooperating with police to help find the gunman. Doctors say Steward had a gunshot wound to his abdomen and another shattered his hip.
7News spoke with the former general manager and security guard of the restaurant chain who resigned just two days before the shooting. They say for 6 months they had been trying to get more security for the bar shift which is the weekend shift from 2am to 4am. They say the owner shot them down every time. They say that the violence was so bad they couldn't take it any more and when the owner objected to the way they handled the problem - they quit.
This particular Denny's is no stranger to violence and the former general manager, Brooke Secoy, says it's nothing new. "Every single weekend this happens, whether it's yelling or fighting." Or - gunshots. The front and back of the building is marked with bullet holes - all from previous shootings.
Employees have contact the owner numerous times. "I said you know, we either gotta close it down for an hour or go ahead and get more security; one or the other," said the former security guard. They never got additional security and so, last weekend, they closed from 2-3am. "One of my employees actually came to me and said you know I may have lost 20 dollars tonight, but it was worth it because I didn't fear for my life," said Secoy.
Secoy says the restaurant owner was not happy - to say the least. "He was absolutely furious with me and said well you can't just close the store," she said. So, Secoy resigned. "After the previous week having those guns pulled on myself, my employees were fearing for their life," she said. "We had already had a killing a month ago and things were getting progressively worse."
The only two security guards resigned as well - leaving Denny's with no security for the weekends. "He knew he was going to have no security the weekend this gentleman was shot. He knew that," said Secoy. "But, he didn't do anything, and the former security guard says if he would have closed down for an hour, it could have been prevented.