A 20-year-old employee at an Ohio McDonald’s walked into the restaurant Wednesday night and shot two co-workers – one his ex-girlfriend and the other his manager – leaving the women fighting for their lives, police say.
Zachary Allart is accused of shooting his ex-girlfriend, Jayla Frost, in the head and face, and his manager, Denise Higgins, in the back, WXIX-TV reports. He was taken custody at the scene and the two women were rushed to a nearby hospital, one with life-threatening injuries, police told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The shooting happened just before 11 p.m. at the McDonald’s restaurant on Beechmont Avenue in Anderson Township, Ohio, near Cincinnati.
“Our hearts go out to all involved. We are cooperating with the investigating authorities and defer any further questions to them,” Phil Saken, a McDonald’s spokesman, told WXIX.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Allart Had a Gun to His Head When Officers Arrived & Was Threatening to Shoot Himself, Police Say
When Hamilton County sheriff’s deputies responded to the Anderson McDonald’s, they found the two women, Denise Higgins and Jayla Frost, suffering from gunshot wounds, and their co-worker, Zachary Allart, holding a gun to his head and threatening to shoot himself, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
Deputies were able to de-escalate the situation and Allard gave his gun to them before surrendering, according to the newspaper.
The sheriff’s office provided few details about the motive, but said it was a domestic dispute, according to the Enquirer. Frost is Allart’s ex-girlfriend.
Witness Sammy Tull told the newspaper, “I was driving to McDonald’s and as I pulled in I saw a cop. here were three people in front of me trying to get out of the parking lot and we couldn’t get anywhere.”
She said she saw five or six deputies with their weapons drawn approaching the suspect.
“They were like, ‘drop your weapon, drop your weapon!'” she told the newspaper.
2. A Panicked 911 Caller Told Police She Heard the Shots Through the Drive-Thru Speaker & Saw Employees Running Out of the Restaurant
A panicked 911 caller reported the shooting to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office in the moments after shots rang out just before 11 p.m. Wednesday night, according to WXIX-TV.
You can listen to the 911 call audio below:
The first caller told the 911 dispatcher that one of the employees inside the store had a gun and he’s “shooting the gun.” The caller said she saw employees running out of the restaurant. “I’m at the drive-thru. I heard the gun going off through the speaker and they all came running out,” she said. “It was at least two (shots), it might have been three. Oh God! Somebody’s running out the store now. Two or three shots, three women came running out of the store and told me to call police. … They said an employee was shooting a gun.”
The caller can be heard talking to the employees who ran out of the restaurant and relaying information to police. The caller said a “white male, thin, about 6 foot tall shot some people. Are you getting someone down here?”
She told police, “the manager is in there bleeding.”
The employees initially thought that the shooter fled in the manager’s car.
In another call, according to WXIX-TV, an employee told the dispatcher, “One crew member just shot another crew member! He’s still in there! His name is Zach! His name is Zach! Oh my God….I’m outside. I know he’s in there still. I’m not going back in there.”
3. Allart Was Convicted of Assault After Attacking a Man & a Female Employee at a Store in January
Allart was convicted of assault earlier this year after an incident at a store on Beechmont Avenue in Anderson Township, according to WXIX-TV. He was accused of attacking two people at the United Dairy Farmer store, the news station reports.
Police said Allart put a man in a headlock and repeatedly punched him. He was also accused of grabbing a female employee’s arm as she tried to break up the fight, causing a minor injury, according to police. He was arrested on two counts of assault, but one was dropped when he pleaded guilty in February. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, but sentenced to serve only one day, which he was given credit for already serving, according to court records. He was put on probation for 11 months, but his probation was terminated in June, according to court records.
Further details about that incident, including his relationship to the man who he attacked and what started the fight, were not immediately available.
Allart, who lives in Cincinnati, does not appear to have any other previous arrests in Ohio. He had worked at McDonald’s for two years, according to WKRC-TV.
His mother told WLWT-TV, “I knew he carried a gun, but it was only for protection. He walks alone at night along Beechmont. This was totally, totally out of character for Zachary.”
4. Higgins, a Mother of 2, & Frost, Who Recently Graduated From High School, Are in Critical Condition
Jayla Frost and Denise Higgins are both listed in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center with very serious injuries, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Sergeant Mike Robison told WLWT-TV. One of the victims is in grave condition with life-threatening injuries, Robison told the news station.
Frost recently graduated from Cincinnati’s Walnut High School in May, according to her Instagram page.
Higgins, who goes by the name Nisey Cannon on Facebook, is a mother of a teen daughter and a young son. Last year she completed the McDonald’s Hamburger University, a training school for managers.
“I did it,” she wrote on Facebook. “All my hard work I do (paid) off I’m proud of myself.”
Courtney Lynn Branch and many of her friends congratulated her, with Branch writing, “(You’re an) amazing manager (and) good person you deserve it … proud of you.”
5. Allart Was Charged With 2 Counts of Attempted Murder
Zachary Allart has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, online records show. He is being held at the Hamilton County Jail.
Court records do not list an attorney for Allart.
He is scheduled to appear in court on Friday, December 15, at 9 a.m. for his arraignment, according to Hamilton County court records.
“For anyone around this area: This is a very safe community here in Anderson Township — usually don’t have to deal with anything like this, but you can’t predict a random act of violence like this,” Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Mike Robison told WLWT-TV.
Police asked anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 513-352-3040.