Sept. 26--FORT WORTH -- Police praised a McDonald's employee and a customer as a "heroes" for their actions Tuesday night as a gunman attempted a robbery that could have turned tragic if his handgun had not malfunctioned.
Fort Worth robbery Sgt. Joe Loughman said the employee, who was not identified, distracted the gunman "long enough to give people time to get out" of the south Fort Worth restaurant.
The suspect, Jestin Anthony Joseph, 24, of Allen, attempted to fire his handgun at workers and customers inside the restaurant, police said, but the gun malfunctioned and did not fire.
But when he went outside and attempted to fire the weapon, it went off -- twice.
The customer was seen on surveillance video briefly trying to fight the gunman, then searching for his young son, who hid during the confusion.
"I think that father definitely is a hero," Loughman said.
The sergeant said the son did what he expected his own children to do: hide.
At a Thursday afternoon news conference, Loughman said it was "very lucky nothing happened."
"My gut feeling here is that the city of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Police Department avoided a major tragedy Tuesday night," Loughman said.
Loughman said it's not clear why the gun did not fire inside the McDonald's at 4800 South Freeway, and that he "tried to pull the trigger five times."
On Wednesday, Loughman told the Star-Telegram that "I've never seen anything like that before. It must not have been their time to go."
Loughman said Joseph told police that he was in downtown Fort Worth at the Trinity Railway Express station before making his way to the McDonald's in south Fort Worth, but did not indicate how he got there.
Joseph -- who was arrested after he ran from the McDonald's -- remained in custody Thursday with bond set at $500,000.
Loughman said after being arrested, Joseph "never gave us any problems and knew what he did."
Fort Worth police say Joseph's actions were captured on a surveillance video at the restaurant.
About four hours before the robbery, Joseph's mother had gone to the Allen police station and told officers that she feared her son was suicidal.
The mother, who asked not to be identified to shield herself and her other children from any repercussions, told the Star-Telegram that she alerted Allen police after her son told her over the phone that people were after 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 in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.
The mother said she believes that her son had a mental breakdown, just as his father did a few years ago. She said she believes it runs in his father's family.
"The only thing I can say to you is that was not my son yesterday," the mother said. "He was not in his right mind."
Joseph's mother said she believes the gun malfunctioned "because we were praying."
Loughman said at least 15 employees and patrons, including children, were inside the McDonald's when the robber entered shortly after 9 p.m.
Loughman said the man walked into the store, first asking for a water cup from a cashier. After walking to the beverage machine, he pulled out a semiautomatic .380 caliber handgun and pointed it at employees and patrons, demanding their possessions.
At least one man tried to wrestle the gun away from the suspect, Loughman said.
He said the gunman then went outside, fired a shot into the air and returned. He went inside again and pulled the trigger, and again, the gun did not fire.
Loughman said the man went back outside near the service road, got his gun to work and fired two rounds in the direction of a passing vehicle. The driver never stopped.