Customers Shoot Employees in Separate Incidents

22 Feb, 2023 Liz Carey

                               

Paducah, KY (WorkersCompensation.com) – Two workers are dead and one is recovering after being shot by customers this week in separate incidents.  

In Paducah, Ky., a hotel worker is dead after a couple denied the shooter a cigarette lighter.  

Officials with the McCracken County Sheriff’s Office said 55-year-old Robert Pannell was a guest at the Best Western hotel in Paducah on Feb. 11. Around 9:45 a.m., officers said, Parnell asked a couple for a cigarette lighter and assaulted them when they could not give him one.  

Pannell then entered the hotel and shot the female worker. Later, Pannell turned and fired multiple rounds indiscriminately, police said, with people in close proximity. At some point, according to the police report, Pannell threw his handgun on the floor of the lobby of the hotel and left. Police found Pannell later and arrested him.  

The worker, who is not being identified at the request of family, suffered multiple gunshot wounds to her head and body, officials said.  

Pannell was charged with murder, as well as assault in the first degree, assault in the fourth degree (no visible injury), wanton endangerment in the first degree, assault in the third degree (of a police officer or probation officer), menacing, disorderly conduct in the second degree, and resisting arrest. 

Authorities said the victim was taken to a nearby hospital, and died later that day after her organs were harvested.  

In Fallbrook, Calif., a man opened fire on his co-workers at a plant warehouse. Officials said Enrique Barajas Gutierrez, 76, killed one of his co-workers and injured two others, including his own daughter, at the Atkin Nursery on Feb. 9.  

Investigators said deputies were called to the nursery around 3 p.m. for reports of a shooting. There they found a female, aged 35-40, and a male, aged 65-70 outside of the barn. Both workers were suffering from gunshot wounds to their upper torsos and were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Both underwent surgery and were expected to survive. A third victim, a male in his mid-to-late 60s, was found inside the barn, dead with wounds to his upper torso.  

Officers also found Gutierrez inside the barn and identified him as the shooter. He was arrested without incident.  

“He was charged with one count of murder along with a firearm allegation that he purposely discharged a firearm and caused a death, he was also charged with two counts of premeditated murder along with the same firearm allegation,” Deputy District Attorney Cherie Somerville told FOX 5 in San Diego. 

In court on Wednesday, Gutierrez pleaded not guilty. The judge imposed a court order that denied Gutierrez any contact with the two surviving victims, one of whom is believed to be Gutierrez’s daughter.  

Victor Gonzalez, the owner of Atkins Nursery, Told NBC 7 in San Diego that Gutierrez was not scheduled to work that day and that his daughter only worked there part-time. Gonzalez declined to make any further comments, the television station said.  

The Wendy’s restaurant said it was working with law enforcement in the investigation.  

"We are deeply disturbed by this senseless act of violence, and we are grateful to the first responders who acted quickly in this situation," a written statement from Wendy's said. "Our number one priority is the safety of our employees and customers.”  

The shooting happened just a few hundred feet from a stadium and track used for youth and high school sports, as well as a baseball field that has been used for many years, officials said.  

The attacks are just the latest in attacks against fast food and retail workers that seem to have increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In the past year, New York City has seen a series of brutal attacks, including a pair of workers at a midtown McDonald’s. The two workers were slashed during an attack in the middle of a morning rush, police said. The employees were stabbed by a “crazed” man, officials said, just after 8 a.m. The victims were hospitalized in stable condition. 

On Jan. 11, a pair of workers were stabbed at a Midtown Taco Bell as they tried to stop a pair of teens from leaving without paying. In September, an axe-wielding man damaged a Manhattan McDonald’s after getting into a dispute with other patrons. And last year, a 19-year-old Burger King worker was shot and killed at work during an armed robbery. 


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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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