French waiter shot dead over slow sandwich service, witnesses say

  • >> Constant Méheut, The New York Times
    Published: 2019-08-19 00:31:49 BdST

Police in France are hunting for a customer accused of fatally shooting a waiter at a restaurant near Paris because, witnesses said, he was upset over the wait for his sandwich.

The killing took place Friday around 9:15pm at a pizza and sandwich restaurant named Le Mistral in Noisy-Le-Grand, east of Paris, police said. The customer, who has not been identified, had been waiting several minutes for a sandwich — it was unclear what kind — and became angry because he thought it had not been prepared quickly enough, restaurant employees and other witnesses told the local news media.

The man insulted the 28-year-old waiter before producing a 9 mm handgun, shooting and seriously wounding him in the shoulder, according to the news network BFMTV. Colleagues who witnessed the shooting called the police. Paramedics arrived quickly, but were unable to revive the waiter.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The gunman fled the restaurant and was still on the run as of Sunday. A police spokesman, Raphaël Biron from the Paris Police Prefecture, confirmed the events, but declined to provide further details because the investigation was continuing.

Representational Photo: People sit at tables outside a bistro in Paris, France, November 18, 2015. Reuters

Representational Photo: People sit at tables outside a bistro in Paris, France, November 18, 2015. Reuters

Paris’ suburbs are replete with many fast-food restaurants, and waiters often work under pressure to deliver customers’ orders quickly and efficiently. But most killings in restaurants have been tied to score-settling and feuds, the authorities said.

In 2018, French police recorded 845 homicides nationwide, a slight increase from 2017. France’s intentional homicide rate in 2016, the most recent year for which United Nations figures offer a comparison, was about a quarter of that in the United States.

On Saturday, stunned residents and shopkeepers gathered outside the pizza and sandwich restaurant after the killing.

News of the killing drew angry reactions on Twitter, including from Jean Messiha, a top member of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, who linked the shooting to “mass immigration.”

But Sylvain Thézard, chief of staff of Noisy-Le-Grand’s mayor, said the “murder is by no means the result of a deeper problem. It’s nothing but sad news.”

c.2019 New York Times News Service