Tapes Capture Chaos of Wendy's Shooting
Tuesday, March 4, 2008; 8:08 PM
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Recordings of 911 calls made as a gunman rampaged through a fast-food restaurant capture the screams, moans and banging that ensued after he killed a paramedic at the counter and fired at panicked customers.
A surveillance video shows gunman Alburn Edward Blake entering the Wendy's restaurant during the lunch rush Monday and going straight to the bathroom, authorities said Tuesday. He emerged minutes later to fatally shoot Lt. Rafael Vazquez, who had gone back into the restaurant to exchange a kid's meal toy his child had received.
Blake then fired about 20 additional shots _ more than there were people in the entire restaurant _ wounding four others, authorities said. The 911 tapes recorded the sounds made as customers frantically called for help. Patrons screamed and dived for cover as the gunman fired.
"Then you can see him return to the center of the restaurant where he shoots himself in the head and takes his own life," said Capt. Jack Strenges of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. "He stood silent the whole time."
Authorities released the audio tapes but have not released the video footage, instead describing it during a news conference.
They say they are no closer to determining what set off Blake, a 60-year-old handyman from Jamaica who lived in West Palm Beach. Court records and interviews show that Blake was once accused of kicking a live-in girlfriend who called him "demented"; that he somehow married a woman he had never met without her consent; and that he sometimes used a Social Security number that had belonged to a Wisconsin man who died three decades ago.
"We're still putting all the pieces of the puzzle together," Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said.
The 911 tapes reveal a chaotic and confusing scene.
"I just got shot!" says Carl Michalek, 43, of Killeen, Texas. "The guy shot up the whole Wendy's.
"I can't move my arm. He blew my arm off," Michalek tells a dispatcher between heavy breaths and moans. "My arm is half blown off. I'm losing lots of blood ... Please help me. I'm going to lose consciousness. ... I'm losing lots of blood."
The injured remained stable Tuesday in the hospital.
Blake often went to the Wendy's with his family, Bradshaw said, but police have found no other connection.