Several people were injured after a driver plowed his truck into a restaurant in Hiram Saturday night while firing a gun at patrons.
The owner of 278 South Bar & Grill confirmed that a man drove his truck through the front entrance of the building during a concert. Images from the scene show a black vehicle with what appear to be bullet holes in the windshield inside the building, which is heavily damaged.
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Police identified the driver as Eduardo Morales, 34. Hiram police said Morales was heavily intoxicated and asked to leave the bar. He left the club but came back in his black Dodge Ram 2500, police said.
Police said Morales then started firing a gun through the window of the truck. Once the clip was empty, Morales drove the truck into the bar through the front doors, hitting numerous patrons.
Police said Morales tried to back out of the restaurant but the truck got stuck.
The restaurant’s owner said some heroic patrons were able to wrestle a gun out of the man’s hands when he tried to reload. They detained him until police arrived.
A security guard was among those hurt. Patrons told Channel 2 Action News that one woman’s legs were crushed under the truck and another woman sustained a head injury from a fallen beam. Another man who helped wrestle the gun away from Morales had broken legs. Many other patrons sustained minor injuries. All are expected to survive.
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Morales suffered minor injuries while patrons were holding him. He was taken to Paulding Wellstar Hospital and then to the Paulding County jail.
Channel 2′s Michael Seiden talked to a man who was inside the bar when the shooting happened.
Ydon Gerneus said the bouncer pulled Morales out of the bar after he smashed two bottles together when he was denied service.
“Twenty minutes later, we heard two gunshots,” Gerneus said. “Me and my partner fell to the floor. All you hear is glass breaking and people screaming and the car comes in through the front door.”
Gerneus said that at first, he thought the man was coming into the bar on foot. He said he helped pull people out from under the truck and under collapsed parts of the ceiling.
“We are still trying to process all this,” the owner told Channel 2 Action News. “Thoughts and prayers to everyone involved at this time. They are our main concern.”
The restaurant is closed today, but the owners released a statement thanking everyone who helped deescalate the situation.
“Our hearts are broken over the events of last night. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved. We’ve always put our customer’s safety first and foremost and we are devastated. We like to believe most people are good….and it showed last night. Many are heroes for their bravery and possibly stopping a situation that could have escalated even further. We will forever be grateful for these heroes. Thank you all for the calls, texts and support. Please check our page for updates on reopening as we do not have a timeline currently. Thank you again, we love you all.”
Police said some patrons ran from the bar before police got to the scene. Police are encouraging those people to get in touch with Hiram investigators at 770-943-3807.
Morales is facing two charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and two counts of aggravated battery. More charges are pending.
When he appeared in court Monday morning, Morales asked the judge if he had killed anyone anyone and how serious the charges he is facing are.
A judge said he will decide on bond after the warrants are signed.
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