Workers at a French Quarter restaurant are being called heroes by management.
An armed robber walked into the Gumbo Shop at 630 St. Peter Street at 10:45 p.m. Sunday, according to New Orleans police. But staffers did not react the way the gunman, 30-year-old Benny Walker, apparently planned.
Surveillance video shows the man identified as Walker entering an upstairs office at the restaurant and then trying to retrieve a shotgun from his clothing. A server and a manager inside the office reacted quickly.
"There was a server standing on the other side of the door, the server thought it was another employee, at which time the stranger went in and he told the manager and the server that was standing in the office, his exact words were, 'You know what this is, give it up, you know give it to me,'" said Gaylin McAllister, the restaurant's general manager.
In an instant, the video shows the two staffers wrestling with Walker.
"He saw that he was carrying a weapon, and he tried to grab the weapon, at which point the server grabbed him and he held him long enough for the manager to come and help him, and a fight ensued from the office down the stairs into our dining room where they got him on the ground and they were able to hold him until the police arrived,” said McAllister.
He said the restaurant had closed before the robber arrived, but the doors were unlocked because some customers were still inside.
"He walked into the restaurant, [the] bartender asked him if there was anything he could do for them and he told the bartender, no, he was fine. So the bartender turned around. He looked like he was going to use the bathroom, or something," said McAllister.
A worker who called 911 during the incident said it was memorable experience.
"I'm extremely proud. They did a very brave thing last night. Normally, we wouldn't recommend doing something like that, but the opportunity presented itself where they feared for their life,” McAllister said.
McAllister said he is confident that the alleged robber has never been employed at the restaurant.
"I've been here for over 25 years and he's never worked here. I don't know if he knows someone who has, but it is pretty peculiar that he knew exactly where to go. It just seemed pretty strange that he knew everything,” McAllister said.
Police said the investigation continues. They said the gun Walker was carrying had been reported stolen from Jefferson Parish.
Walker is booked with armed robbery and illegal possession of a stolen firearm.
The restaurant said staffers who wrestled him to the floor suffered only minor scrapes and bruises.