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Tapes Capture Chaos of Wendy's Shooting

By BRIAN SKOLOFF
The Associated Press
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.

"They liked to go to the place and watch the planes come over," Bradshaw said. The restaurant is near Palm Beach International Airport.

Authorities estimate there were 19 people in the restaurant _ 12 customers and seven employees.

Records show that while Blake had no criminal convictions, a girlfriend, Mary Gianninco, accused him in 2006 of kicking her in the knee and back in front of their baby. She told The Palm Beach Post on Tuesday that Blake was a "demented" yet "extremely intelligent" man who sometimes resorted to violence at home.

"I've been shaking like a leaf for the past three years," Gianninco told the newspaper. "This is a demented man; this is a sick, abusive man that should have been locked up in a cage a long time ago."

She did not answer a call from The Associated Press.

Blake married his wife, Deborah, in 1989, according to records, but there is no record they have divorced. He also married a woman, Tangela Kemp, in 1987, and wasn't officially divorced until 1993, the records show.

Kemp said Tuesday that she never knew Blake, returning from basic training for the military in 1988 to find herself married to him. She said she believes he had someone impersonate her.

"I was shocked," Kemp said.

Kemp said she hired an attorney to end the marriage and just assumed it was fraudulent.

Records show Blake owned a maintenance and handyman company until 2003, but authorities said he is believed to have been unemployed at the time of the shooting. Authorities also can't explain his use of the Wisconsin man's Social Security number.

A 1996 story in the Post showed that Blake accidentally ran over an 18-month-old girl with his van, seriously injuring her. He had a young daughter at the time, who would now be a teenager.

The daughter declined to comment when reached by phone Tuesday at Deborah Blake's apartment. No one answered the door later.

___

Associated Press researcher Judith Ausuebel in New York contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS a name spelling to Gianninco, instead of Giannico.)

© 2008 The Associated Press