Robin Hood manager: ʽI heard the bullets, the shooting. There was a lot of commotion and screaming’
Zakaria Ibraheem was in the restaurant’s dining room when he saw a gunman rush through the front doors and head towards the bar.
Mr Ibraheem said diners sank to the ground as soon as the first shot was fired.
Police have launched a murder inquiry after two patrons at the bar – Micah Davis, who was celebrating his 22nd birthday, and Ayinde Eve, 27, were killed in the attack.
A third man who was with the pair was also shot and is recovering at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
A fourth victim – an off-duty policeman sitting near the group – was hit in the hand but eventually released from hospital.
Police have said the shooting was gang-related.
On hearing the first shot, Mr Ibraheem said he immediately began ushering about a dozen diners – including at least one small child – into the kitchen for safety.
Mr Ibraheem, who has served in the army in his native Egypt, then returned to the bar to see if he could help.
He said: “I heard the bullets, the shooting. There was a lot of commotion and screaming, and I was trying to say to the customers – the females and the kids – to get into the kitchen. I took them into the kitchen and then went back into the dining room.
“There was shooting from both sides. I was just trying to save the people – they were laying on the ground.”
Mr Ibraheem said that the shooting had stopped by the time he had emptied the dining room of customers.
He went to the bar area and saw two of the victims on the ground.
“I saw one guy had been shot in his head lying next to the fireplace – he was shivering and giving his last breath,” Mr Ibraheem said.
“Another man was shot in his tummy and his hip and so I put him on a chair.”
Mr Ibraheem said he then carried the wounded man outside and helped him into a car before returning again to the crime scene.
Speaking to The Royal Gazette yesterday Mr Ibraheem praised the off-duty officer wounded in the attack.
:“He got shot in his hand trying to stop it,” he said. “The policeman was sitting near to these three at the bar near the back door. When the shooting started, everyone was ducking and screaming but he stood up. He was off duty and didn’t run for cover – he tried to do a noble, heroic thing.”
Paul King, the restaurant’s owner, said he was “stunned” when he received a telephone call telling him of the incident.
“I wondered if it was like something that happened in the States, like one of those mass shootings at a school. I was worried about my staff and also concerned one of our regulars had been injured.”
Mr King arrived at the restaurant shortly afterwards but was blocked by police who had cordoned off the crime scene.
He said: “It was frustrating but I was able to speak to some of my staff by cellphone.
“They have obviously been through an experience that shouldn’t be in anyone’s job description. They been with me for a few years and I have confidence in them. I’m just grateful that they’re all here today.
“Some staff needed a day off and some have come in like troupers. We’ve said do whatever you need to do – if you want to take time off, sure. In the recesses of your mind you are traumatised in some way.”
Mr King said his restaurant was not known to be frequented by gang members.
“You can have suspicions that someone might have gangster ties but then your concern too is they could turn against your staff if they’re told ‘you’re not welcome here’.
“If someone has a reputation as shooter, staff are going to be concerned about confronting them. That’s the sort of Catch-22.
“What I think is of concern is that the problem is no longer back of town. You’re dealing with an element that knows no boundaries.
“And what is frustrating is that you have so many police after the fact and you sometimes wonder ‘where’s the intelligence?’ How come everyone is reactive and not able to be proactive?
“If someone comes with a gun and you’re unarmed, what are you going to do – unless you have some armed security person?
“Do we need special troops or a SWAT team to come in and tackle this head on? It’s frightening frankly.”
Mr King added: “I do think this was a one-off. It’s six o’clock on a Tuesday evening and we’re getting ready for quiz night and we had about 25 people in and most of them are regular customers and I didn’t think this was a security situation.
“Human life is so precious and to see anyone’s life being taken is just incomprehensible and makes you wonder what is in that person who can go and do something like this.
“I’m still processing everything and I’m sure I’ll wake up tomorrow and think differently about how to do things. All I want to do is get back to having our customers back, watching the football, enjoying the quiz and having a beer.”