A Chili's restaurant was robbed early Saturday morning, and two employees who were closing up have been shot and killed. The incident occurred just after 1 a.m. on Saturday morning at a Chili's Bar and Grill in DeWitt, New York. The chain was part of the ShoppingTown Mall on East Erie Boulevard, where officers responded to the call at 1:04 a.m., according to the Post Standard. The Chili's closes around midnight most days, according to the website for that location.
One employee was found dead at the scene, and the other was transported to a hospital. The second employee died of his injuries there, officials said. Neither slain employee has been identified, but police did say that both victims were male. The New York State Police are investigating, along with the Onandaga County Sheriff's department and Syracuse Police K9 units. It is not clear yet if surveillance footage was available, but it appears that law enforcement is using every means possible to locate and apprehend the identified suspect.Spectrum News reported that the suspect, or suspects, fled the scene before police arrived. Based on eyewitness accounts and other data, law enforcement states that the suspect was identified as William D. Wood Jr., 32. He was described by law enforcement as a white male, about 5-foot-5 and 170 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt and black pants. Wood is known to ride a brown or orange-colored BMX bike as well.
News of the crime stunned employees of the restaurant as well as neighboring businesses and families. They huddled together outside the restaurant, expressing their dismay at the turn of events that left two unidentified employees dead. The tone of the group was shock, disbelief, and intense grief.
"Shocked, shocked, I almost don't believe it. But I'm shocked. Never, never, this is the first time," says Eve Jackson, a ShoppingTown employee for decades. The quiet community does not often see violent crime, and employees of the mall said they have always felt safe working there, even late at night. It is especially concerning considering the restaurant was fully staffed.
It is unclear if there was additional motivation in the robbery, or what, if anything, Wood was able to steal from the restaurant aside from the lives of two employees. He is considered armed and dangerous. If anyone sees Wood, they are encouraged not to approach him, but should instead call 911.