A West Bank husband and father of three was shot to death at his Subway restaurant in Gentilly on Wednesday night during a robbery attempt, one of his employees said.
Though officials haven't confirm the victim's identity, the restaurant's manager on Thursday described how owner Adnan Alasar, 51, was gunned down by a man who barged into the store in the 2100 block of Caton Street and demanded money.
Tennielle Legendre said she was alone at the store with her 5-year-old son playing in the back when Alasar arrived about 7 p.m. It surprised her because he had already worked a morning shift. She figured he would be home resting.
A couple walked in immediately afterward and ordered sandwiches, Legendre said, and while she started preparing them, Alasar went to the register to ring them up.
As a safety precaution, Legendre said, employees at the restaurant would always lock the door after 5 p.m., so while the couple paid for their food she headed to the entrance to relock the door.
A West Bank family's patriarch was shot to death at his Subway restaurant in Gentilly on Wednesday night, according to officials and his relatives.
“As I walked over, as soon as I get my hand on the door, (the gunman) ran in, real low, shouting, ‘Give me the money! Give me the money!' ” Legendre said.
Terrified, Legendre ran out of the restaurant to call 911.
“That’s when I remembered my baby was still in there,” she said. After grabbing a phone from someone at a neighboring barbershop, Legendre said she heard the shots.
“I was on the phone with 911 the whole time, and I heard 'Pop-pop!' It was like one firecracker. And then I heard Adnan, he said, ‘Tennielle, he shot me!' It just all happened so fast.”
New Orleans police said two shots were fired, and Alasar was struck at least once.
The gunman fled before paramedics arrived to take the wounded man to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
According to Legendre, who said she later reviewed the store's surveillance footage, the gunman can be seen entering the store while the two customers rushed to the back.
A struggle then ensued between her boss and his assailant. “It was a tussle,” Legendre said. Alasar "was trying to hold the gun down while walking him out the door.” At some point, shots were fired.
The wounded Alasar ran out into oncoming traffic, throwing himself on the hood of a car for help, Legendre said. The car was driven by an off-duty Gretna police officer, who stopped to help Alasar after he collapsed on the street, Legendre said.
Legendre said Alasar's killer had a slim build and was dressed in a black sweater with a cloth covering the bottom of his face.
Legendre, 33, said she had worked for Alasar off and on since she was 17. She described him as a calm and kind man.
“This is just tough,” she said, starting to cry. “I just keep reliving it over and over again.”
Dozens of friends and family stopped by Alasar's home in Gretna's Stonebridge subdivision Thursday to offer their condolences.
About 30 people filled the home’s foyer and living room at one point, each one pausing to hug Alasar’s wife as they entered.
She asked that her name not be published but said she and her husband were both from Syria, had been married for 13 years, and have two sons, ages 11 and 8, and a 10-year-old daughter.
Friends recalled Alasar as a kindhearted family man who worked tirelessly to provide for his family.
He owned at least two other Subway outlets, one in Carrollton and the other near City Park. City records show he also had permits to operate at least three taxicabs, one each with Veterans Cab, Elk's Elite and Patio Cab.
One friend who wished to remain anonymous said, "He was so good, so kind — he tried to help everybody." Wiping away tears, the friend said, “He was the best for his kids and taking care of them. He was a family man.”
In fact, friends said, Alasar told his employees to never fight or argue in the event of an armed hold-up — just to give robbers what they want.
An employee of the barbershop next to where Alasar was killed said the slain Subway owner's business acumen was obvious. But what struck him most was his kindness.
"I had to tell him, 'Please stop giving your food away,' " said the barbershop employee, who asked to not be identified.
Jeff Morlier, a Subway official, issued a statement lamenting Alasar's death. "We're shocked and deeply saddened by this devastating news," Morlier said. "The owner was a dedicated franchisee and member of the New Orleans community."
The Muslim Academy in Gretna, where two of Alasar's children are students, also issued a statement, saying, "Our thoughts and prayers (are) with his wife, children and loved (ones). To Allah we belong and to him we shall return."