A legal gun owner in Newington, CT was arrested after allegedly chambering a gun in a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant. From the New Haven Register:
Police say Tawana Bourne, 30, was in possession of a .380 caliber handgun when they arrived at the 3075 Berlin Turnpike restaurant around 8 p.m. in response to an argument involving a firearm.
Bourne was at the restaurant with her child and got into an argument with another woman who was also there with a child, Newington police said.
During the argument, Bourne allegedly brandished the semi-automatic handgun and chambered a round, police said. Chuck E Cheese staff quickly contacted the Newington Police Department to report the incident, according to police.
No one was hurt in the incident and the police were able to seize both the pistol and Bourne’s gun permit.
In a statement, Chuck E. Cheese, a children’s restaurant with a no weapons policy, said it will have to review its security procedures.
Here’s the video:
It’s not difficult to imagine that Chuck E. Cheese would be a little *shall we say* gun shy. Newington is less than an hour away from Newton, the location of the Sandy Hook Massacre, where 20 children and six adults were brutally gunned down. Chuck E. Cheese itself has a storied history with gun violence, a history with ties to 2012’s other most infamous mass shooting – the ‘Batman’ shooting in Aurora, CO.
Years before Columbine, the Denver metro area experienced what was called the “Summer of Violence.” The passing of the summer of 1993 didn’t leave the violence behind, however. Like a ghoulish exclamation point, the end of the year was marked with what would begin a series of Colorado’s mass shootings.
Just after closing on December 14, 1993, 19-year-old Nathan Dunlap, a disgruntled former employee who had been fired, walked into the restaurant and shot five workers in a Chuck E. Cheese in Aurora, CO, just minutes from the theater where 70 people were shot and 12 died while attending a premiere of the movie, “Batman.” Four died and the fifth managed to escape after being shot in the jaw.
Murderpedia describes the events of that night:
Fifty-year-old Margaret Kohlberg watched the clock. It was nearly 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night in December 1993, and her crew was antsy. A family birthday party had stayed late at the Aurora Chuck E. Cheese, and the parents were just now bundling up their two kids against the winter cold. Margaret headed back to the office to start tallying the night’s receipts. She’d go home in a few minutes, after she got her teenage workers out the door.
Sylvia Crowell started cleaning the salad bar. The 19-year-old was balancing a full-time work schedule and classes at Metro State, but that day she’d gone shopping with her best friend, Carole Richins, before they’d clocked in for the night shift at the pizzeria. Carole had just left, shouting, “I love you!” over the restaurant’s cacophony of arcade games and animated toys.
Nearby, Ben Grant, a high school junior, turned on the vacuum, and its whirring helped drown out the noise. He tossed the cord behind him, absentmindedly sucking up pizza crumbs and food left crushed into the carpet by the kids. Colleen O’Connor was helping close that night too, but she was distracted. The 17-year-old had called her mom during a break three hours before and found out her parents were giving her a car.
In the kitchen, Bobby Stephens scrubbed away. He hadn’t been scheduled to work that day, but he needed the cash. Just 20, he had a seven-month-old baby boy at home. With the holidays coming up, he had stopped in to ask for extra hours, and they had put him to work. The small crew continued closing, the routine so familiar that they moved with the robotic motions of the mechanized creatures that danced, twirled, and sang around them.
Sylvia didn’t even hear the intruder come up behind her. Silently, he raised the .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol to her left ear and squeezed.
As she fell, he looked away. He couldn’t stomach the sight of gore and blood. He moved quickly to where Ben was vacuuming.
The bullet entered near Ben’s eye, lodging in his brain as he fell to the ground.
Colleen saw him coming. He was a boy with a gun; he had too-big brown eyes above hollowed cheeks and a mouth that twisted in a half-smile. Kneeling in front of him, she begged for her life, raising her arms, her fists clenched, as he held a gun just 18 inches from her head.
“Don’t shoot,” she cried. “I won’t tell.”
“I have to,” the shooter said as he pulled the trigger again.
Inside the kitchen, Bobby heard the three sharp cracks, but he didn’t stop working. He figured it was probably Sylvia or Colleen popping balloons. He didn’t have time to think about it much before the kid with the gun barged into the kitchen. Tall but gaunt, like a boy who’s not quite yet a man, the intruder was wearing a jacket, gloves with holes cut out at the knuckles, and a baseball cap perched backward on his head. Stunned, Bobby started to say hello. Half-smirking, the shooter raised his arm.
The bullet entered Bobby’s jaw and sent him sprawling to the floor. It felt like a burn, a cigarette scorching his skin, and then like a baseball bat slamming into his face. He watched as a pair of black high-top shoes headed toward the office. Margaret was still counting the evening receipts. She did what he asked and opened the safe. The last words she heard were “thank you.”
He shot her in the ear. Then he grabbed her bag, filled it with game tokens, key chains, cards, $1,591 and change.
He shot her again, in the other ear, just to make sure.
Six .25-caliber shell casings dotted the floor. The shooting spree couldn’t have lasted more than five minutes.
It would only take a few hours after the Chuck E. Cheese massacre for police to track down the shooter: 19-year-old Nathan Jerard Dunlap was at his girlfriend’s apartment. The couple was having sex when his pager went off with a message from his mom, who was relaying a message from the cops. The investigators had heard he ate dinner at the restaurant that night and wanted to ask him a few questions. Dunlap agreed to meet. Before returning to his home, an apartment he shared with his mother, the teenager washed his hands with hydrogen peroxide and jumped in the shower, then stashed some of the money under the freezer. Back at his home, the police questioned him, swabbed his hands for gunshot residue, and took his clothes into evidence. About 12 hours after the murders the police returned to Dunlap’s home and cuffed and arrested the teen.
To this day, Dunlap remains on Colorado’s death row, despite clear evidence of bipolar disorder.
It’s understandable that the Chuck E. Cheese in Newington, CT would be intolerant of guns on their premises. It’s understandable that they would call the cops at the first sign of violence. Gun lovers should understand why people aren’t comfortable with the idea of pistol packin’ mommas and poppas.
Tawana Bourne of Newington, CT wasn’t a bad guy with a gun. She was a licensed gun owner. She is a mother. She is a mentor for “at risk” youth. She had little in common with Dunlap. But if the incident had been just slightly more heated … If police didn’t arrive exactly when they did … Bourne, the “good guy” with the gun, could have joined Dunlap with the dubious title of a Chuck E. Cheese shooter. Like in Newtown, children could have died, and a second gun, even if held by a good Samaritan, would most likely have made it worse.
|Wendy Gittleson grew up in a political family. Her passion is for social justice and fairness. She is the Senior Editor for Addicting Info. She lives in a union household. In her rare downtime, you’ll find her hiking or exploring the shoreline with her dogs. Follow her on her Facebook page or on Twitter, @wendygittleson|