ATLANTA - In an exclusive interview, former Barcelona Wine Bar manager Tim Maldonado told Channel 2 Action News he sounded the alarm about what workers felt was insufficient security at the restaurant, more than eight months before Sunday night’s deadly robbery.
“I feel like in a way it could have been avoided," he told Channel 2's Aaron Diamant. “But there was no solution. Nothing changed, and as you can see with what just happened, security is the same, in shambles, inconsistent.”
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Surveillance video released by Atlanta police shows the three suspects committing the violent crime. Police did not release portions of the video they said shows the robbers forcing manager Chelsea Beller, to open the safe or when one of the men fatally shot Beller in the shoulder.
“It’s just a shame that this is a multi-million dollar company that didn’t put in place real security,” Maldonado said.
Maldonado showed Diamant emails exchanged between him and employees with his supervisors. One of the emails in that chain was from Beller, who wrote:
“They park away from or behind the restaurant. Defeats the purpose of the car.”
“They rarely get out of the car now. They used to stand out front so there was a presence but they haven’t done that in a while.”
“I’ve waved goodbye a couple of times only to realize they were sleeping.”
Moments after the robbery, a 911 call revealed the security officer at Barcelona Wine Bar didn't know the address to the restaurant.
Operator: “What is the address of your emergency?”
Caller: “Uh, I’m not sure of the address, but I’m the security officer at Barcelona downtown.”
Not only couldn’t the guard give the operator the restaurant’s address, but the officer couldn't provide a cross street either.
Operator: “I still don’t have a location address, but OK, go ahead.”
Caller: “It’s called Barcelona, Barcelona the bar.”
Operator: “Yeah, I’m not pulling that up.”
Caller: “Oh my God, I just…”
Operator: “Barcelona bar is not in Google, so I don’t have a location or address or an intersection.”
Caller: "Oh my God, Oh my God, they just robbed them.”
Maldonado said that confusion makes his case.
“So, for me to see that, knowing this is Thanksgiving week, it’s like 'How can I sleep at night knowing that I have information that could help her family kind of piece together what happened to their daughter?'” he asked.
One of the March emails Maldonado shared showed the restaurant's regional manager taking workers' concerns to the security company, which promised to take action. In the meantime, a statement from a Barcelona spokesperson said:
"The safety and well being of our employees and guests is our top priority. As you can see from the email you received this issue was addressed directly with the security company and a change of guard was made immediately."
So far, police have not made any arrests in Sunday's deadly robbery.
If either of these people looks familiar, call Crime Stoppers. The number is 404-577-TIPS. You do not have to leave your name.
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