When Jestin Anthony Joseph walked into a McDonald’s and asked for a cup of water, that’s not all he was after.
Witnesses say the 24-year-old soon pulled out a gun and pointed it at employees and customers — who were with children — demanding their possessions.
Fort Worth police say surveillance video shows Joseph pulling the trigger at least five times while pointing it at individuals inside the restaurant — but the gun wouldn’t fire.
At least one man tried to wrestle the gun away from the Joseph, who then went outside and fired a shot into the air, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says.
“We were praying…Last night I told God to keep Jestin, and that’s what I do believe happened.”
As people ran from the restaurant, Joseph went back inside and again pointed the gun at individuals and pulled the trigger.
Again the gun didn’t fire, police said.
So Joseph went back outside, pointed it at a passing vehicle, successfully fired two rounds in its direction, and witness say the driver never stopped, according to police.
Joseph was soon captured, police say, adding that no one was injured in the Tuesday night stick-up and there’s no explanation for the gun misfiring.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” robbery Sgt. Joe Loughman told the Star-Telegram. “It must not have been their time to go.”
Jospeh’s mother agrees, believing the gun malfunctioned “because we were praying,” she tells the Star-Telegram. “Last night I told God to keep Jestin, and that’s what I do believe happened. I did not know he even had a gun.”
Joseph’s mother, who asked not to be identified, went to police about four hours before the robbery and reported that she feared her son was suicidal based on a phone call with him.
“He said, ‘They’re trying to kill me, Mama! I’m going to die tonight! I’m going to die tonight!’” the mother recounted to the Star-Telegram, adding that Joseph may have been experiencing a mental breakdown like his father did a few years ago, a condition she says runs in his father’s family.
“The only thing I can say to you is that was not my son yesterday,” Joseph’s mother said. “He was not in his right mind.”
KXAS-TV conducted a jailhouse interview with Joseph on Thursday in which he said he “lost it,” but added that the gun was loaded but not cocked and that he had no plans to hurt anyone.
Joseph tells KXAS that he started hearing voices Sunday night, continues to hear them, but hasn’t been treated for mental illness. He also told the station he was angry, believed people were after him, and went to the McDonald’s to steal a car and get out of town.
Asked if there was a better way to handle his anger, Joseph told KXAS, “No.”
Joseph was in jail Wednesday night on outstanding warrants and on suspicion of five counts of aggravated robbery, with total bail set at $500,000, the Star-Telegram reports.
Police have had previous dealings with Joseph, who’s from Allen, Tex., about an hour northeast of Fort Worth. The Star-Telegram says he’s been collared for possession of drug paraphernalia and a narcotics-related warrant and for assault, the Star-Telegram says.
“In some of the other contacts we’ve had with him, he kind of lives a transient lifestyle,” according to Sgt. Jon Felty, a spokesman for the Allen Police Department, adding that Joseph was known to travel by bus. “He’ll come stay a while. Then he’ll be gone a period of time. Oftentimes he seems to suffer from extreme paranoia.”
Joseph’s mother said she was at the Allen police station when her scared and frantic son called her again.
“I was actually talking to a police officer when he called me for the last time,” the mother tells the Star-Telegram. “I was trying to find out where he was. I asked the cop if he could trace the call. I told him, ‘Jestin, I love you.’ He was just like, ‘Mama, people are after me. People are after me.’”
She expressed gratitude to God that no one was hurt.
“I would have never in a million years thought he would have gone to that point,” she said. “I know that same spirit that grabbed a hold of his dad and took his dad mentally, grabbed Jestin. I could hear that with Jestin, in the things he was saying.”
Here’s surveillance video of the incident from Fort Worth police via YouTube:
(H/T: Dallas Morning News)