Angry over wait, man draws shotgun
by W. Winston Skinner
Jessie Griffin of Sargent is charged with pulling a gun at a Newnan Hardee’s – after having what he felt was too long a wait for his food.
The Newnan Police Department responded to a call from Hardee’s at 231 Temple Ave. at 9:39 p.m. Thursday. Officer C. White said he and another officer went to the restaurant and found the doors locked. “After making contact with a store employee who came to the door, we were told that the white male had actually threatened to kill all store employees,” White said.
Yenesel Jones, the manager on duty who had called 911, told the officers the man “was accompanied by a white female and two children in the back seat of their white car,” White said.
The couple initially ordered food from the drive-thru, and they were asked to pull ahead and wait for their order to be completed. The order included tacos, and the ground beef mixture had to be prepared.
Griffin, of 71 New St., Sargent, and his girlfriend, Rhonda Riley, placed their order about 9:23 p.m. and had to wait seven minutes for their food. Griffin “became impatient and entered the store to express his frustration with the wait time,” White said.
Employees said Griffin entered the building with a cigarette and was asked to leave as smoking is not allowed in the restaurant. “After a couple of minutes had gone by, Griffin re-entered the store and was very agitated,” White said. Griffin reportedly used obscenities when speaking to the employees.
“Griffin’s aggressive and frustrated demeanor can clearly be seen on the store camera recording,” White said. At one point, Griffin picked up the store phone and slammed it on the front counter before exiting.
After Griffin got the food, an employee followed Griffin to lock the door behind him. Griffin then claimed “to have been shorted a order of french fries and approached the door a third time,” White said, but employees asked him to leave because of “his previous actions.”
All the restaurant’s employees present Thursday evening complained of Griffin’s vulgar language. The workers “assumed that there was something medically wrong with Griffin,” White said.
Hardee’s employee Meggan Pierce went outside to ask Griffin and Riley to leave. A fight ensued between Riley and Pierce. White photographed scratches on Pierce’s neck, and Pierce told police Griffin pulled her hair as she was trying “to get his girlfriend off of her.”
Faith Arbuthnot, general manager of the restaurant, arrived and saw the altercation.
Griffin reportedly told Riley to pop the trunk of the Mitsubishi so he could get his gun. Several Hardee’s employees “witnessed Griffin remove what appeared to be a shotgun from the trunk,” White said. “After removing the gun, Griffin racked the slide three times.”
"I will shoot all of you m----- f------," Griffin said as he was racking the gun.
Pierce “ran back into the store and locked the door,” White said. She and other employees rushed to the front counter as Griffin approached the door with the shotgun. “All the employees on scene testified to the same exact events and each one expressed feelings of fear that Griffin was actually going to kill them,” White said.
On the restaurant’s video camera system, Griffin can be seen wearing a gray shirt, dark pants and white shoes. “There was no camera footage of the parking lot where Griffin’s car was located, but Griffin can be seen entering and exiting the store near the drive-through area,” White said.
Griffin and Riley left Hardee’s in the Mitsubishi. Coweta County Sheriff’s Office deputies gathered at Witcher Station off Ga. Highway 16 West and then went to Sargent. Griffin was arrested following a short foot chase through the woods near his home. Riley was also taken into custody, and police confiscated the gun.
Shoppers and employees at other nearby businesses were aware something was occurring at Hardee’s on Thursday night. Chris Smith, who works nearby, was not on duty at the time but said co-workers “heard some of it” and talked about the events on Friday.