Papa John’s Founder Honors Fallen Employee
You may not recognize the name John Schattner, but I guarantee you've seen his commercial and maybe even dined on the product he is famous for. But what isn't known, is the dedication the man has to his company, and more importantly the respect and concern he has for his employees and their families.
Gordon Schaffer's family gathered Saturday to mourn his death at a funeral service in Spring Hill. In a Facebook post, Schaffer's sister said the pizza company's founder, John Schnatter, visited with the family before the service. The founder and CEO of Papa John's traveled to Tennessee this weekend to attend the funeral of an employee who was gunned down on the job.
"We never once imagined that this would touch anyone high up in the Papa John's corporate office, let alone, John Schnatter," Devan Cronin wrote. "He was visibly distraught when speaking to my family about the tragic loss of my brother and it was apparent that he didn't come just to pay lip service."
Cronin said Papa John's also paid for Schaffer's funeral service and medical expenses. But, she added, "this display of support was so much more meaningful than any monetary donation."
According to his family, Gordon Schaffer sometimes dropped hints about feeling uncomfortable. Schaffer, 22, was working the late shift at the Columbia Papa John's on Oct. 20 when armed robbers entered the restaurant and forced him to empty the register. After Schaffer handed over fistfuls of cash, one of the suspects shot him. He died before medics could get him to the hospital.
Darious A. Fitzpatrick has been arrested and charged with killing Schaffer. He also faces charges related to the robberies of two Dollar General stores in Columbia earlier this month. Fitzpatrick was arrested in May of 2013 by Columbia police for the aggravated robbery of a Cash Express store. According to court records, Fitzpatrick was found guilty of that charge.
Papa John's issued the following statement Wednesday:
"We are deeply saddened by this senseless tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with the Schaffer family. The safety of our employees is our top priority. We are providing counseling for our team members, and we are fully cooperating with local law enforcement during this investigation."
Prosecutors are working to move the 17-year-old suspect's case out of juvenile court into adult court. Police are still searching for one more suspect in this crime.