Two Laurelton residents shot in fast food eatery

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Two customers were injured Saturday when someone fired into a fried chicken restaurant on the Merrick Boulevard commercial strip in Laurelton, police said.

Police said they suspected that an apparently angry customer who bought food at the Crown Fried Chicken store at 229-07 Merrick Blvd., left, then returned a few minutes later and shot through the Plexiglas storefront at random, hitting two customers.

At press time Tuesday evening, police were still searching for the gunman.

Omega Walker, 15 and Devon Tater, 33, both of whom live within a few blocks of the Laurelton store, were injured in the shooting, police said. There was no known motive, police said.

A bullet grazed Walker’s chin when shots were fired at about 10:15 p.m., and another hit Tater on the elbow, police said. Walker was taken by ambulance to Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica and Tater was transported by private means to Long Island Jewish Hospital in New Hyde Park. Both were in stable condition.

Witnesses said a young man who appeared to be in a foul mood while ordering his chicken was the one responsible for the shooting.

“The guy seemed pretty upset, he came into the store upset,” said an employee who was working the night of the shooting.

The employee said the man threw money on the counter and snatched the change from her co-worker.

“It was unusual, the way the customer came in so upset,” the employee said.

At that time, the worker said about eight customers were sitting and eating at tables inside the restaurant, which is subdivided by another Plexiglas wall.

The employees, who worked behind the subdivision, had left the door to the rest of the store open, the worker said. When gunshots began to fly inside the shops, some of the customers ran through the subdivision door to take shelter with the employees in the back, the worker said.

The employee did not see the man who fired seven shots into the restaurant, but customers told her it was the same person who had been so curt with her co-worker.

“I didn’t hear the shot — I saw the hole in the glass and I hit the floor,” the employee said. “I was so scared, I’ve been in this situation twice, working at this store and another, so I just knew to duck.”

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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