Fayetteville man arrested after shooting at restaurant employees

Paul Whitaker (Photo courtesy of Washington County Detention Center)

FAYETTEVILLE — A 19-year-old Fayetteville man was arrested Friday after shots were fired at employees of the Taco Bell restaurant at 1147 N. Colorado Blvd. early Thursday.

Paul Whitaker, 19, of 438 Thresh Drive in Fayetteville, was arrested in connection with attempted murder, possession of firearm by certain persons, terroristic threatening and committing a terroristic act. He was being held Monday in the Washington County Detention Center on $250,000 bond.

According to a preliminary report from the Police Department, Whitaker was arrested in connection with an incident reported around 3:06 a.m. Thursday when officers were called to the Taco Bell restaurant on Colorado Boulevard. Employees told police they were standing in the parking lot on a break when two men approached them from the west. The employees said they were talking about and laughing at one of their co-workers. One of the two men told them to “mind their business and get back to their 9-5 job,” according to the report.

One of the employees said it wasn’t “9 to 5” and it was actually 3 a.m., according to the report. One of the men became angry and walked toward the employee, making threats to “kick their a**, then kill them.” The second of the two men tried to get between the employees and the man making threats, according to the report. The man making threats pulled a black and silver handgun from his jeans and pointed it at the employees.

The two men began walking away to the east and the man who had been threatening the employees turned back toward them, pulled the gun out of his jeans and cocked it before pointing it at the employees. The man fired the gun into the air several times and walked south to the corner of Wedington Drive and Betty Jo Drive, according to the police report. After crossing the street, the report said, the man fired several shots in the direction of the employees, who were still in the parking lot. Police said several shots hit the restaurant building and one shot went through a wall into the building, striking several cleaning bottles and narrowly missing another employee.

Surveillance video from the restaurant and a nearby apartment complex showed the incident, police said, and officers were able to identify Whitaker as the man who had fired the gun. Several employees also identified Whitaker.

Officers searching for Whitaker went to a home at 1131 N. Oakland Ave, No. 4., based on information linking Whitaker to the address in a previous incident. Officers confirmed Whitaker was inside and he was arrested without incident. After a search of the home, officers found a handgun and ammunition matching shell casings found at the scene of the shooting.

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