Cops: Man fires shot inside Polk McDonald’s while customers dine

Willie Watson III. Jail booking photo

LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFLA) — Lake Wales police say they’ve caught the armed man who fired a shot inside a McDonald’s while customers were eating.

It happened around 8:34 a.m. on Sunday at the McDonald’s located at 2500 Ridge Way. Detectives say Willie Watson III entered the restaurant with a gun, fired a shot into the ceiling and told everyone not to move.

The two customers who were eating at the restaurant complied with Watson’s demands and the McDonald’s workers took off in different directions, according to police.

After the employees left, Watson went behind the counter, but could not get into any of the registers.

He then took off in a blue minivan. Employees gave police a description of Watson and the minivan he left in.

Police issued a BOLO for the minivan and authorities found a van that matched the description in the BOLO. Officers and deputies pulled over the van and the driver, Latasha Johnson told them her boyfriend Willie Watson had just returned home with the van and had been driving it that morning.

Deputies and police officers found Watson and arrested him. They say he had the gun and glove that witnesses had described.

“This robbery could have gone real bad. We are thankful nobody was injured during the incident,” said Lake Wales Police Department Deputy Chief Troy Schulze.

We are also thankful we were able to locate Watson and take him into custody without incident. The great working relationship between the Lake Wales Police Department and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office resulted in a violent criminal being captured very quickly,” Schulze added.

Watson will be charged with armed robbery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, and discharge of a firearm in an occupied business. More charges could be filed.

No one was hurt during the incident at McDonald’s. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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