FORT WORTH — “Heroes” is how a police sergeant described a McDonald’s employee and a restaurant customer for their actions Tuesday night when a robber tried repeatedly to shoot people, stopped only because his gun misfired.Fort Worth robbery Sgt. Joe Loughman said the employee, who was not identified, distracted the gunman “long enough to give people time to get out” of the South Freeway restaurant, even while a pistol was pointed at this head.But the gun malfunctioned and did not fire — until the robber went outside and tried to shoot again. That time, it went off. He fired twice at a passing car that kept going.The suspect, Jestin Anthony Joseph, 24, of Allen, was arrested a short time after he ran from the McDonald’s, 4800 South Interstate 35W. He was in the Mansfield jail Thursday with bail set at $500,000.At a Thursday afternoon news conference, Loughman was asked if he believed “divine intervention” — a phrase used in a Star-Telegram article on Thursday — kept Joseph from hurting anyone. He paused and then added that he couldn’t say, but he was sure the community was “very lucky nothing happened.”“My gut feeling here is that the city of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Police Department avoided a major tragedy Tuesday night,” Loughman said.At least 15 employees and patrons, including children, were inside the McDonald’s when the robber entered shortly after 9 p.m., according to reports.Images of the attempted robbery were captured by surveillance cameras inside the restaurant and in the parking lot.In the footage, a customer, also unidentified, was seen briefly trying to fight the gunman, then searching for his young son, who hid during the confusion.“I think that father definitely is a hero,” Loughman said. The sergeant said the son did what he expected his own children to do: hide.Joseph then went outside, fired a shot into the air and returned. He went inside again and pulled the trigger, but again, the gun did not fire.Loughman said Joseph went back outside near the service road, got his gun to work and fired two rounds in the direction of a passing vehicle. The driver never stopped.He ran south along the service road, tossing the gun as he fled. He was arrested by officers responding to the robbery.The gun was retrieved, Loughman said. He also praised the department’s patrol officers for quickly finding the suspect and arresting him. Loughman said the pistol was .380-caliber semiautomatic, but he did not know the make or model. Police had not yet done a “function check” on the gun by Thursday afternoon, so it was unclear why the gun did not fire inside the McDonald’s, even though Joseph tried to pull the trigger five times.Loughman said Joseph told police that he was in downtown Fort Worth at the Trinity Railway Express station before making his way to the McDonald’s in south Fort Worth, but did not indicate how he got there.About four hours before the robbery, Joseph’s mother went to an Allen police station and told officers that she feared her son was suicidal.Allen police have had dealings with Joseph about a half-dozen times since 2005, including issuing him tickets for possession of drug paraphernalia and arresting him on a narcotics-related warrant, and later for assault, according to Sgt. Jon Felty, a spokesman for the Allen Police Department. This report includes information from Star-Telegram archives.
Bill Miller, 817-390-7684 Twitter: @Bill_MillerST