BLOUNTSTOWN, Fla. — The Blountstown Police Department is investigating an alarming incident that happened on Friday night at SandBar and Grille; the Blountstown restaurant which has served free Thanksgiving meals to residents recovering from Hurricane Michael for two years in a row.
“It sounded like something was breaking and I had no idea what it was,” recounted the restaurant’s owner, Matthias Schmarje on Monday.
He said he was cooking in the back of the restaurant when he heard a commotion going on in the front.
He said it was a little before 7 p.m., and the restaurant was packed.
“I saw customers scattering and my server Kristi came up and she’s like, someone has shot out your sliding glass door window,” said Schmarje. “Immediately I was just like, ‘no, that’s not a thing that happens in Blountstown.’”
When he went to check it out for himself, he said, sure enough, the glass door was completely shattered.
“I stayed the night here that night just in case whoever shot the window out came back for seconds,” said Schmarje.
Now, police are investigating.
“Most likely, a pellet rifle or a pellet pistol was used to shoot it twice,” said Blountstown’s Chief of Police, Mark Mallory.
No one was injured, but Schmarje says the incident has brought up an eerie thought.
“I would never be able to speculate why someone would shoot the window out in a busy restaurant,” Schmarje said. “It doesn’t happen here, but it did, so it can.”
Residents, SandBar patrons and family friends are working to help.
Several have said the Schmarje family has served the community many times; this Thanksgiving, the restaurant served free meals to anyone who walked through the door.
Last Thanksgiving, the Schmarje’s as well as SandBar and Grille staff and volunteers served meals to Hurricane Michael survivors in Mexico Beach.
Now, residents are trying to give back to the family.
“We found out that Matt did not have a security system of his own,” said Johnette Wahlquist, a long-time family friend of the Schmarjes’ and a frequent guest at SandBar. “I just thought hey, why don’t we all get together and try to help Matt get his own security system and anything else he needs to secure his building?”
Wahlquist has started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Schmarje.
He said he is grateful for the help.
“That’s why I love this little town,” he said. “That’s what our community does for each other, we help take care of each other.”
He said it’s still business as usual for the restaurant.
“Just keep going,” said Schmarje. “Can’t let bad things stop you from doing good things. “
Blountstown Police urge anyone with any information that could help with the investigation to call the station at 850-674-5987.
To contribute to the GoFundMe, click here.