Robert Gagnier | 5/20/2009, 5 p.m.
Los Angeles, CA -- Our Weekly recently sat down with the owners of the Creole Chef to discuss the recent armed robbery and attempted murder that occurred at their family restaurant.
Norm Theard: "As soon as we opened at Crenshaw Plaza, we were received with open arms by the community. We were featured in local papers, magazines and on the Internet. I remember Our Weekly did one of our first reviews. Since then, we were featured in USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, and L.A. Times. We appeared on ABC7, CBS2, KTLA5, FOX11, and CNN, and had many appearances on KJLH."
Paul Theard: "When you walked in you felt that you were in someone's home. It was common for us to hug and kiss thirty people in one day. The space we found was the biggest we could afford while risking our financial lives to pay for it. We felt the neighborhood was best suited for us because the African American community was more in tune with our type of food."
On Tuesday March 3, two hooded assailants entered the restaurant and walked behind the counter. A large gun was placed at the head of the lead cook and the trigger was pulled. The gun misfired, so the cook was pistol whipped instead. He dropped to the floor with a wound to his head. The second assailant chased another cook out the back, while a third employee hid in the storeroom. The two girls at the counter were quarantined and forced to open the register. The assailants made off with all of the day's cash.
Norm Theard: "I got there within a few minutes. I saw fire trucks, an ambulance and police, but no sign of security. I was instantly disgusted due to the history that we have had with the mall security. Even after this, they were nowhere in sight. About twenty minutes later I called them myself and said they needed to get on the scene. When they finally arrived, I recognized one of them as being the supervisor. I demanded that he stay until the situation came to its conclusion, in case the police got another call. I didn't want the perpetrators to possibly return with no presence of law enforcement or security.
After the employees were questioned, I told them that we would be closed at least for the following day, and sent them home. We still had to wait for C.S.I. (crime scene investigation) to take fingerprints and collect materials from the scene. We were waiting an hour until the fingerprint expert arrived. About that time, security said they had to leave. And they left. When C.S.I. was done, two police officers kindly walked us to our vehicles."
Lack of presence and communication by security in past events.
Only one week prior, the Taco Bell located 5 spaces down suffered an armed robbery. The Creole Chef was never notified of this by the mall. After canvassing multiple other mall businesses, it was found that they also received no notice. LAPD indicated that it's likely that Creole Chef's attackers are the same ones who hit Taco Bell.