Waffle House good Samaritan shot to death paying for meals, handing out $20 bills
GAINESVILLE, FL (ABC News) — A good Samaritan was fatally shot over the weekend while handing out $20 bills and paying for meals at a Florida restaurant, according to police.
Police arrested Ezekiel Hicks, 25, on murder charges early Sunday in the death of 41-year-old Craig Brewer, who was shot and killed at a Waffle House, in Gainesville, Florida, just a few miles west of the University of Florida.
Officials with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office said the restaurant’s surveillance camera captured an altercation between the two on video. Witnesses said the victim was arguing with a female acquaintance of the suspect, who was reportedly upset because Brewer’s generosity didn’t include her.
Hicks intervened and got into a physical altercation with the victim, police said. At one point, Hicks left the Waffle House and retrieved a 9mm Glock pistol, which was later recovered at the scene, according to the sheriff’s office.
The altercation “lasted only a few seconds” and ended with Hicks firing multiple shots towards the victim’s head, killing him on the scene, the sheriff’s office said.
Lt. Brett Rhodenizer, an Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said officers received a call about the restaurant reaching its maximum capacity and were en route when the shooting occurred.
“They feel like they were so close and just far enough away to where they couldn’t change the outcome,” Rhodenizer told ABC News on Monday. “This incident went from a verbal altercation to a homicide in minutes, if not seconds.”
“The speed at which it happened and how quickly it went so bad — for both the victim and the suspect — is really kind of the thing that resonates the most with a lot of the folks that have been a part of the investigation,” he added.
Hicks was arrested in the parking lot, where he admitted to shooting Brewer, according to the sheriff’s office. Investigators are now looking to see if the victim may have had a prior issue with the suspect or his acquaintance that led to the argument.
“The why of this case will persists for days and weeks as we conduct follow-up interviews, but the how is incredibly straightforward,” Rhodenizer said. “Out of all the investigations that I’ve seen, very seldom do you have an incident from start to finish on video that ends in a murder.
“It was literally in the single digits worth of minutes from the time we received the initial call from the Waffle House, saying, ‘Hey, there’s too many people here, we’d like a hand clearing the restaurant,’ to deputies are on the scene, told about a shooting, and we have a suspect in custody and a firearm recovered.”
Hicks was being held without bail on charges of premeditated murder in the first degree and carrying an unlicensed firearm. His attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment from ABC News.