Man hears shooting from inside Waffle House: Updated 4:41 p.m.
Thomas was eating breakfast at Waffle House when he heard a scream, turned his head and saw a man dying on the ground next door at the Exxon station on U.S. 1 near Fredericksburg.
The victim, who police have not identified, was fatally shot about 9:30 a.m. while pumping gas – just two days after a sniper attack killed a man at a gas station near Manassas.
Police have not conclusively linked Friday’s attack to the sniper who has shot nine people in Washington, D.C., area in the past week, but they say the shootings share similarities.
Thomas was sitting at a booth when another customer cried out that she’d seen someone get shot.
A man who was pumping gas next to the victim ran into the Waffle House, saying he’d heard the shot and watched as the man was hit with a single bullet.
Restaurant employees and diners dove to the ground and many ran to the kitchen, where they crouched behind counters for safety.
“Kids were crying, seeing everyone hide and duck under windows,” Thomas said.
Police were on the scene in minutes and wouldn’t let anyone leave the area. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms interviewed Thomas and other diners.
People slowly came out of the kitchen but were hesitant to leave the building. Thomas said the man who pumped gas next to the victim refused to come out of hiding until ATF agents assisted him.
“He wouldn’t come out, he stayed with his back against the wall, next to the bathrooms,” Thomas said. “He was a wreck, to say the least.”
Thomas stayed at the Waffle House for another hour or so before heading home. He said he didn’t feel particularly unsafe inside the restaurant, but wasn’t planning on taking his family out Friday.
“I’m a little nervous and I will be the next time I have to go get gas. I won’t let my kids go to the gas station with me,” he said.
The serial sniper is linked to nine shootings in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia – seven of which were fatal.
Staff writer Kate Bissell can be reached at (703) 878-8068.