Employee ducks for cover during police shootout

Employee ducks for cover during police shootout

SLIDELL, LA (WVUE) - Louisiana State Police has identified the suspect injured in Friday night's shootout with police.

Police identified the suspect as 26-year-old Michael Donato.

The incident started when police received a call of an armed robbery in progress at Mr. Joe restaurant at the intersection of Gause Boulevard and Rue Rochelle Drive. At the scene, Donato and the officers exchanged gunfire.

"You don't expect something like that happening here, to be honest with you, it came out of nowhere," Henry Usaga, who manages a cell phone store in the shopping center where the shooting happened, said.

Usaga said one of his employees was inside the store when the gunfire broke out just feet away from their door.

"She was so freaked that she was barely able to talk, I just talked to her [on the phone] and told her what to do. Just duck, stay down, don't do anything rushed, don't try to go out, just stay in the office, lock yourself there," Usaga said.

Sam Hamidian, who owns Studio Zeeba in the shopping center, said he was just down the street when gunfire erupted.

"It's just crazy, just mind boggling that it happened this close to home," Hamidian said.

Late Saturday afternoon, several windows damaged by gunfire were covered with plywood waiting for repairs, including one of the windows at Hamidian's salon.

"If somebody was standing in here, that late, it would've been pretty crazy," Hamidian, whose salon was closed during the shootout, said.

Donato, who was injured in the shootout, was taken to a local hospital where he is listed in stable condition.

The Slidell Police Department says none of the officers was injured in the shooting.

Upon release from the hospital, Donato will be booked with armed robbery and attempted first-degree murder.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing and any additional charges will be referred to the St. Tammany District Attorney's Office.

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