TAMPA — Tony and Amy Abdallah had two problems with the UberEats driver who came to pick up an order at their Seminole Heights pizza place on Sunday.
For one, the man didn't have the proper bags to ensure their customer's pizza arrived hot. But there was something even more troublesome, said the owners of Crusty's Pizza on N Florida Avenue.
"He was visibly under the influence of something," Amy said. "I don't know what it was, but he wasn't sober."
Moments later, after Tony told the man they would be calling Uber for another driver, the man became enraged, pulled out a BB gun and shot at the building. The BBs narrowly missing the couple's 18-year-old daughter doing prep work in the kitchen.
Police said the man shot at least five rounds into the building before fleeing south on Florida Avenue. Tampa police were still searching for him Wednesday, police spokesman Eddy Durkin said. Few other details were released, including the driver's name.
Amy Abdallah said she and her husband were unhappy about the heating bags, but were more concerned about having an intoxicated man delivering their food.
"Anyone who delivers our food is basically a face for our business," she said.
The man cursed as he shouted that the bag "wasn't my problem," making a scene in front of customers, Amy said. Tony asked him to leave and the man got angrier. He spit at Tony and started kicking the building and shrubbery.
A moment later, he shot three BBs through a kitchen window. The projectiles, Amy said, came within six inches of her daughter's head.
The driver got into his car and drove away, then returned and shot two more times into Crusty's front window and the window of the adjoining Chop Chop Shop, a Korean fusion restaurant, before fleeing again, according to police.
The BBs completely shattered the Chop Chop Shop's window, Amy said. Tinted film on Crusty's front window kept the glass intact.
The shooting happened just moments after the Abdallahs' other daughters, ages 11 and 12, walked inside the restaurant carrying items from Amy's car, she said.
"All three of my children are extremely traumatized," she said. "They ask, 'Did the police catch the bad guy? Are we going to have to go back to the restaurant?' ''
Police said the man might have been driving a GMC sport utility vehicle. Amy Abdallah said the Uber app said he should have been driving a GMC Envoy but that neighbors reported seeing him in a Volkswagen. Residents even snapped photos, she said.
A spokeswoman for Uber, Jodi Kawada Page, said the company has blocked the driver's access to the Uber app while the investigation is pending. The company cooperates with criminal investigations when contacted by law enforcement agencies and is doing so in this case, Page said.
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Amy Abdallah said Uber reps told her the driver had passed the company's background check. Page confirmed that.
Abdallah said the incident has not let the incident sour the couple on Uber. The drivers have always been polite and courteous, she said.
Nor has the shooting dimmed the couple's view of their new neighborhood. In fact, it's done the opposite. They believe more than ever that moving from Virginia to Seminole Heights to open their business was the right decision.
"The Seminole Heights community has been so welcoming and compassionate," Amy said. "The real heroes are the people who have gone above and beyond in being helpful and looking out for us at Crusty's."
Contact Tony Marrero at email@example.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.