A gunman fatally shot a Haitian immigrant outside a Southside McDonald's this afternoon after the victim, a maintenance man at the store, tried to save his manager from a daring daylight robbery, said Jacksonville police and the wife of an employee.
The victim's wife identified him as Raynold Orelus, who has been in the United States about six years and worked to support his four children in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Orelus, 45, has an infant child in Jacksonville, where he has lived for two years, according to his wife. He and Miraclide Orelus, 47, had been married 19 years.
Police said they caught the gunman 13 miles away in Northwest Jacksonville after his car was followed from the Baymeadows Road store briefly by a citizen and then by officers.
Shots were fired after the man fled from his car on West Ninth Street, but it's unclear who fired, said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda. The fleeing man was caught by a police dog. The man and a police officer received minor injuries, but neither was shot, Bujeda said. Police have not released the suspect's identity.
The attack occurred shortly before 2 p.m. at 8590 Baymeadows Road in the Baymeadows Festival shopping center between Interstate 95 and Philips Highway. After the victim was shot and the robber drove off, employees and others rushed from the store in an effort to save him, said Mia Hall, whose husband works in the store.
"All of them went to help him, to hold him, to try to console him, to try to keep him alive," said Hall, 27. "By the time I got up here ... he was dead."
Hall said her husband told her by phone that the victim was trying to save the manager from being robbed of her deposit bag as she went to her black SUV just outside the store. Bujeda said the victim was shot while escorting another employee from the store.
The manager, who wasn't hurt, gave the robber her bag of money at some point during the attack, Hall said. Hall said she knew the victim. She left work and drove to the scene to see her husband, who was also texting her information.
"He [Orelus] would run to help anybody," Hall said. "You hear about it everyday, but you never think it'll just happen to somebody you know."
Witnesses reported hearing one shot and saw a man in a green truck driving erratically through the parking lot, apparently in pursuit of a suspect vehicle. Police caught up with the vehicle in the 1300 block of West Ninth Street. The man was caught after bailing from the vehicle and trying to flee on foot.
Jeff Waterhouse, 24, who works at a nearby restaurant, said he heard a bang, came outside and saw the green truck speeding out of the parking lot. Waterhouse said he went to where the victim was lying and saw a half-dozen people trying to revive him. He said the man had a gunshot to the stomach area and wasn't moving.
"I've never seen it before," said a startled Waterhouse.
Police tape was stripped around the restaurant, as employees and customers were evacuated. Many employees were ushered away from the scene in an city bus.
A 19-year-old woman who began working at the McDonald's as a cashier two weeks ago walked upon the scene and asked what happened. When told, the woman said she was shocked and walked away.