INDIANAPOLIS - Friends and family are speaking out about the slain Army veteran who was trying to keep a situation from elevating into trouble at a Denny’s on the city’s north side.
Mario Wilson, 46, arrived at the restaurant with his fiancé Karen Dunbar and friends Carl and Annette Smith on Saturday morning around 5 a.m.
Trouble broke out before the couples had a chance to eat. They said there was an angry disruption right after they ordered.
“Someone said do you have a problem with us and Mario was like everything is fine, we’re OK. We don’t have a problem with you and then the guy just gets up, he throws a bunch of money on the table and he left the restaurant,” Carl Smith said.
The man starting trouble was 26-year-old Leonard Bond, police said.
Friends said Wilson, a 22-year United States Army veteran and father, tried to defuse the situation.
Witnesses said Bond stormed out of the restaurant and started banging on the window until Wilson came to the front door.
“I think that guy was coming into the restaurant and Mario was probably stopping him from coming back into the restaurant because Mario wasn’t out there for a confrontation,” Smith said.
Police said Bond shot Wilson several times and his friends and fiancé could hear the gunfire from inside the restaurant.
“I just got on my knees and just started to pray,” Annette Smith said.
“She [Dunbar] saw Mario bleeding everywhere. She almost really collapsed, and while we were struggling, she got Mario and was trying to comfort him, trying to hold his wounds,” Carl Smith said. “To see him there in distress, and the way he struggled to the very end, it was just hard. I was holding his hand."
Another Denny’s customer helped Smith keep Bond from getting away until police arrived.
Bond is being held at the Marion County Jail on charges in connection with Wilson’s death.
Follow Ebone Monet on Twitter: @ebonemonet26