Six people escaped injury when bullets flew into a Highland Square pizza shop Wednesday night.

“Why someone would want to shoot up their neighborhood pizza shop that does so much for the community is beyond me,” said Angelo Gonzales, owner of Your Pizza Shop at 1077 W. Exchange St.

Five of the people are employees of the shop. The sixth person was a customer.

Gonzales, who left for the day before the shooting happened, said he rushed to the store from his home when he got a call about the incident, which Akron police said happened around 9:30 p.m.

Gonzales said he doesn’t know how close any of the night-shift workers came to being shot.

“It’s unacceptable at any distance,” he said.

“Everyone hit the deck” when they heard shots being fired, he said.

Two bullets pierced the shop’s main front window, a third bullet came through a small window above the door and a fourth apparently came through the space where the door had been left open by a customer.

This bullet went through drywall, and apparently ricocheted off the hood system in the kitchen, Gonzales said.

One of the bullets that came through the front window also entered the kitchen. The bullet apparently hit the oven.

“We are so grateful [no one was hurt]. … We are like family," he said. “Our employees mean everything to us. They are the heartbeat of the business. They are the reason we are successful here.”

All of the employees want to continue working at the shop. He gave one of the employees a paid night off “to collect her thoughts.”

“I don’t know what it was,” he said, that prompted the shots being fired. "We really enjoy creating jobs here. ... We're not going anywhere.

The store is known in the community, he said, for giving discounts to schools and churches and giving free food to organizations. It’s also known for opening up early and staying open late when needed.

”We do lots with the community,” he said. "

In April, the store gave away 100 pieces of chicken that workers had prepared for an order that was not picked up.

“We posted it on Facebook … help us eat this,” Gonzales said. “We gave it away. … It helped a lot of people. People were tagging friends they knew needed help.”

No arrests have been made. The incident remains under investigation.

In 2009, a former owner of the shop shot and killed a would-be robber.

Charges were not brought against then-owner John Hayes, who Summit County prosecutors ruled acted in self defense.

According to a Beacon Journal article, Patrick Finney, 20, of Akron, was shot and killed during the robbery attempt. Police said Finney entered the store with a sawed-off shotgun, which he put to Hayes' head and demanded money.

Before Finney left, Hayes pulled out his pistol and fired several shots, striking Finney in the upper torso. Finney struggled to get outside the shop and died.

 

Contact Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.