COVINGTON, Ga. – A driver ran over three young children and two women in the parking lot of a McDonald’s restaurant Tuesday, police said. One witness described the man as having a smile on his face.
A 2-year-old girl was in critical condition Tuesday night; two other children and a pair of adult sisters were in stable condition, authorities said.
Lanny Barnes, 36, was in custody at the Newton County Sheriff’s Office and faces multiple charges, including aggravated assault, said Covington Assistant Police Chief Almond Turner.
“All indications are that he intentionally hit them,” Turner said.
There was no apparent connection between Barnes and the victims, police said.
Witnesses said the car went over a curb as the victims left the restaurant, hit them and the building before backing up and hitting them again, police said.
Barnes’ mother, Mary, said that her son has battled mental illness.
“He’s been suffering with depression for years,” she said, her voice shaking. “Lord have mercy.”
Ryan Boldman-Snyder, 20, an employee at the restaurant, was on a break outside when he heard screaming, and he said Barnes was “smiling the whole time.”
Witnesses tried to pull Barnes out of his car. Police officers finally pulled him out of the car from the passenger-side front door, Boldman-Snyder said.
The victims were identified as Anita King, 36, of North Carolina, and 2-year-old daughter Avery Nicole King; and Stephanie Casola, 33, of Covington, and her children, Jacob Paul, 4, and Isaac Raymond, 3.
McDonald’s area franchise manager Bill Hall said that the restaurant would remain closed for the rest of the day and that counseling was being provided for employees.