Managers, patrons talk about Hooters shooting, murder

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) – Saturday morning's shooting at the West Knoxville Hooters had turned into a murder investigation early that evening.

Police have now released a sketch of the alleged gunman; a customer whom they believe opened fire with a .40 caliber handgun after walking out of the Kingston Pike restaurant during a dispute over his bill.

One customer was killed and another, one of Hooters managers, was wounded.

All day Saturday it looked like just another slow one at the restaurant, that was until you saw the bullet holes.

"Obviously anything like this is never easy to take," said Jason Till, the manager of the Electric Cowboy, a nearby bar and nightclub.

At just before 1:00 AM on Saturday, Knoxville police say a customer argued about his bar tab.

A Hooters manager waived the bill and that’s when the customer allegedly walked outside and pulled out a 40-caliber handgun, opening fire on the restaurant.

Bullets pierced glass windows, hitting another customer, Stacey Sherman, 35 of Applegate, Michigan.

He died Saturday afternoon at UT Medical Center.

Bullets also struck Kris Key, 24 who was a Hooters manager.

The restaurant declined an on-camera interview, but a representative did issue a written statement.

Part of it read, “…we are both stunned and heartbroken, and we will continue to work with the authorities and do whatever is necessary to help our employees and customers recover and cope.”

"In my opinion, they did perfect, it's completely random, things like this and you never really know,” said Till. “We don't like confrontation, so if we think the guy's going to be violent, we'd like to handle it as easily as possible."

That means asking them to leave and if that doesn't work, call for help.

"We'll have the police either wait outside or we'll actually ask them to come inside and remove the individual,” Till said.

Meanwhile, some Knoxville night-owls say the shooting won't scare them off the dance floor.

"No matter how hard they try and no matter how hard they work, there's still going to be people out there that do stuff like that,” said Joe Roberts.

"You just have to live life,” said Sue Johnson, “have fun and enjoy life and not be afraid."

Manager Kris Key was upgraded from critical to serious condition Saturday afternoon at UT Medical Center.

Police say the suspect is a white man with dark skin, in his twenties or thirties and about 6-feet tall, weighing around 180 pounds.

He is also missing four of his front teeth and he has a ponytail.

The suspect was last seen wearing blue jeans and a black hoodie with white-diamond pattern stitching and large-gauge earrings.

If you have any information, police ask you to call them at 865-215-7212.

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