Police: Heavily armed masked gunman thwarted outside local restaurant

Jeremy Arnez Eppinger


A citizen’s quick thinking and willingness to get involved may well have prevented a tragedy Sunday afternoon when he witnessed a heavily armed masked man approaching a Griffin restaurant.

Wesley Land reported to 911 that as he was parked behind Griffin Stereo at approximately 2:30 p.m., he witnessed a man officials identify as 26-year-old Jeremy Eppinger crouched down behind a retaining wall with his back to a tractor trailer. Land reported to dispatch that he witnessed the man begin advancing towards Pizza Hut, drawing a weapon from his pants.

“Land said he observed Eppinger standing from time to time and it appeared he was looking at Pizza Hut or a vehicle in it. Land stated that he did not think much about the situation until Eppinger jumped up onto the retaining wall with his face covered with a camo mask and pulled a gun from his pants,” reported GPD Officer Michael Betsill. Land then stated that Eppinger started walking toward Pizza Hut. Land stated that when he saw this it startled him, and he quickly put his vehicle in reverse and sped backwards startling Eppinger. Land stated that Eppinger turned to look at him then ran to his car and drove away.”

Land reported the suspect had fled the scene in a blue car, which Betsill spotted as he was en route to the call. Betsill conducted a traffic stop on Eppinger behind The Fish Bowl.

“Eppinger appeared to be calm,” Betsill said, adding that the suspect had both hands on the steering wheel and was looking forward. The officer also stated Eppinger had a camouflage mask around his neck.

“I asked Eppinger if he had any weapons in the vehicle and he at first seemed confused. I asked again and he stated that he had one firearm under the drivers seat for protection because he was a driver (sic all),” Betsill stated in his incident report.

After removing Eppinger from his vehicle, Betsill asked if there were any additional firearms in the vehicle, to which the suspect allegedly responded, “There might be one in my waistband.”

Eppinger was then handcuffed, and a second officer, Patrolman Rhodes, removed a Smith and Wesson 9mm handgun from Eppinger’s pants, Betsill said.

“We then searched Eppinger for any more weapons on his person and found in his front left jacket pocket a magazine loaded with .223 rounds for what appeared to be an AR-15,” Betsill stated.

A subsequent search of Eppinger’s vehicle resulted in the discovery of an SCCY pistol and three wooden blocks covered in duct tape measuring approximately four by 12 inches under the driver’s seat.

Also located were three separate bags containing multiple fully-loaded AR-15 magazines and boxes of ammunition for both pistols, as well as additional .223 rounds.

A Kel-tech .223 AR-15 pistol was located in a cardboard box in the vehicle’s trunk.

“…I returned and asked Eppinger what he was doing. Eppinger stated that he was just cleaning his gun and didn’t want people to see him doing it. I asked Eppinger what he was cleaning his gun with because there were no cleaning supplies in his vehicle to clean a gun with,” Betsill stated. “Eppinger stated that he was going to clean his gun with hand sanitizer and paper towels. I asked why he didn’t have the paper towels behind the semi-truck with him and he could not give a reason but only kept repeating that he had the hand sanitizer in his pocket.”

Officer Todd Hendrix later reported that Jan Travis, the Pizza Hut manager, reported that Eppinger was an employee of the restaurant, but they had been having trouble with him and had cut back his hours.

Eppinger is facing charges of criminal attempt of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and additional misdemeanors.

The investigation of this incident is active and ongoing.






    I have dealt with this guy before and he always seemed a few bricks shy of a load to me. He had very nice parents and I feel sorry for them but I am glad that this was stopped before anyone was hurt.

    • Thomas Harvey says:

      First of all I’d like to say thank you Wesley land. When it says in this article that (it appeared that he was looking at Pizza Hut or a vehicle in it.) Well i was in the vehicle he was looking at. I arrived between 2 and 2:10 pm and as I pulled up to the back of the parking lot. I seen someone’s head across the top of the retaining but I assumed that this was the owner of the tractor trailer. As I was walking inside I noticed the back door was propped open with a trash can. When i went inside i went straight to the back door and closed it. And it seemed about like 15 minutes went by and somebody said the police were out front wanting to talk to me about my vehicle. I never had a clue of what could have happened.

  2. Ralph Varnadoe says:

    Yes, disgruntled employee….and the National headlines and news cover how many mass shootings? Involving disgruntled or fired employees shooting up their places of employment. Huge shoutout to Mr. Land for being a responsible citizen and calling 911. Lord knows if he hadn’t, Griffin would have been on the national news.

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