The 52-year-old Waffle House server was just doing her job and enforcing the no-smoking policy at the restaurant.
BILOXI, Miss. — She was shot in the head because she asked somebody not to smoke.
The 52-year-old Waffle House server was doing her job and enforcing the no-smoking policy at the restaurant when she was shot by a customer she told to put out a cigarette.
The popular waitress had worked at the restaurant for eight years, and she spent some of the last moments of her life asking customers if they had enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday.
“Our associates are in shock over the whole incident,” said Pat Warner, vice president of Waffle House’s corporate office in Atlanta. “It’s a senseless tragedy. … I’ve been with Waffle House for 16 years and don’t recall anything like this.”
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Biloxi police Sgt. Donnie Dobbs said the customer, Johnny Max Mount, 45, is accused of fatally shooting the waitress early Friday after he fired up a cigarette inside the business. Police said Mount was still inside the restaurant when police believe he pulled out a 9-mm handgun and shot the woman. She died a short time later at Merit Health Biloxi. She had a single gunshot wound to her head.
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.
The name of the waitress was not released, pending notification of her next of kin.
Warner said the Waffle House where the woman worked was smoke-free. Some stores in the restaurant chain allow smoking.
However, Waffle House prohibits firearms inside their restaurants unless the customer works in a law-enforcement field or is in the military, Warner said.
Customer Richard Bonin said the waitress served him and two friends when they stopped in to eat shortly before midnight Thursday.
“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.
Now, he said, he’s wondering if they were among her last customers.
“I just can’t believe this,” he said. “She was honestly so nice.”
Mount has no felony record, but he does have misdemeanor violations.
Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said the investigation is continuing, but had few thoughts about what occurred.
“I just don’t understand why somebody would be so upset over a cigarette,” he said. “Some stuff like this just defeats logic.”