Parents of Pizza Hut robbery suspect question why employee shot, killed their son
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It's been a difficult week for parents Temia Hairston and Michael Grace Sr. Their son, Michael Grace Jr, was shot and killed during an attempted robbery early Sunday morning.
Police said Grace Jr and two other people tried to rob a Pizza Hut in the 3200 block of Freedom Drive. During the incident, an employee fired his own handgun and killed Grace Jr.
Hairston said she learned of her son's death on social media, and only got confirmation from police after contacting them first. The grieving mother said she has been left with dozens of questions about the situation that have thus far gone unanswered.
"If there was to be a death, it was not the place of the employee at Pizza Hut. That is the place of law enforcement," said Hairston.
Hairston and Grace Sr acknowledged that their son was breaking the law by robbing the business, and said they definitely don't condone what he did.
"It was an act of desperation, but I do not believe that Michael would have hurt anyone," said Hairston.
They said Grace Jr had fallen on hard times and resorted to crime to provide for his own child. They also said their son used to work at the same Pizza Hut restaurant where the robbery happened. They maintain he never would have physically hurt anyone during the robbery.
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WBTV contacted the local restaurant and the Pizza Hut corporation public relations line. Neither have confirmed that Grace Jr worked as an employee at the Freedom Drive Pizza Hut. CMPD officials have not confirmed the information either.
The parents are angry that their son was shot and killed by an employee. They don't believe the full story has been released to the public.
"Why in the hell did this guy have a gun?" questioned Hairston about the employee who shot her son.
She said her son was shot in the head, and she thinks the shooting may have even been personal, citing past conflicts Grace Jr had had with other employees at the restaurant.
"This wasn't a body shot. This was a head shot. My son was shot in the left side of his head just behind his ear. A headshot is personal," said Hairston.
Even though their son was in the process of committing a crime, the family thinks his death was undeserved and unjustified.
"Even a criminal has a right to a degree," said Grace Sr. "I'm not advocating what my son did."
The family said they want Pizza Hut to release more information about the situation and acknowledge that their son used to be a Pizza Hut employee.
Pizza Hut previously released the following statement about the incident:
"The local Pizza Hut franchisee is fully cooperating with the Charlotte Police Department as they continue their investigation, but want to stress that the security of its staff is of utmost concern. They are providing support to the team members involved to ensure their health and well-being following this incident. The employee involved in the shooting has been placed on a leave of absence following further review."
Hairston said she thinks the employee who shot her son needs to be in jail, and wants all parties involved in the situation to be honest about what happened.
CMPD released a statement when asked about Grace Jr and his alleged previous history with Pizza Hut.
"The investigation is still ongoing," the statement read, "any new information will be released by Public Affairs."
Grace Jr was just 29-years-old and leaves behind a young son.
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