Violence is common in area of Waffle House shooting, employees say

Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 6:23 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Cars are constantly in and out all day, people walking through headed to the supermarket in Southgate Plaza just off Gordon Highway.

But news of an early morning shooting in the parking lot near a Waffle House had some surprised on Monday.

Others, not so much.

Long before the sun started rising, gunshots erupted.

Nicklaus Wilson, 32, was found unresponsive in the parking lot of the Waffle House on Gordon Highway with at least one gunshot wound.

“It’s just terrible you know, and it’s sad. ... It’s just sad,” Jeanne Thomas said.

“Bullets don’t have no name. You know I’m saying you could be driving by, you know, bullets fly, you know. We all want to feel safe, no matter where we’re at.”

We spoke to several employees like Thomas who work in the Southgate Plaza. They were sad to learn the news, but many weren’t too surprised that a shooting had happened at all.

“That Waffle House is known for fights and all kinds of stuff like it’s always happening. There are videos of people recording fights after club hours. Nothing new. It sucks, but nothing new,” another Southgate employee said.

She wanted to remain anonymous, but she says she’s worked in the plaza for eight years, and she says theft and fights are common.

“There’s not enough police presence in this area, especially at night and we do have a lot of, I wouldn’t say homeless people but people out here panhandling, and a lot of people that are a little more aggressive than others,” she said.

And this isn’t the first shooting to happen here. Back in 2017, a man told police he was robbed when walking out of the restaurant then shot in the leg.

“It doesn’t surprise me because these are signs of the times we’re living in, you know, a crime is happening everywhere we just have to be careful and stay close to God, stay prayed up, that’s what I do,” Thomas said.

The suspect in this recent shooting 31-year-old Andrew Deon Gaines.

According to the incident report, after the shooting, Gaines stole a car, but it did not belong to the victim. That car was found by police around 2 p.m. Monday, but there was no sign of Gaines.

“Something is always happening, but you know it’s up to the people to stop killing each other over senseless stuff because I’m pretty sure it was nothing really important that he got killed for...,” the anonymous employee said.

The employees say overall this plaza is quiet and they do enjoy working here, but incidents like this make them a little more cautious especially when closing at night.

Just hours after the shooting, the Waffle House was open and serving a morning breakfast crowd. Again, police are still searching for the suspect. Andrew Gaines is considered armed and dangerous.

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