New York: A 45-year-old man shot dead a long-time waitress at a restaurant in the US state of Mississippi for asking him not to smoke.
Johnny Max Mount shot Julia Brightwell, 52, in the head for doing her job by enforcing the no-smoking policy at a Waffle House on Friday.
Julia, who had worked for eight years as one of the restaurant's beloved servers, spent some of her final moments asking patrons how they enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday.
Mount had argued with Julia after being told that he couldn't smoke, Biloxi police officer Donnie Dobbs said.
Mount pulled out a 9mm handgun and shot the woman. She died a short time later. She was shot once in the head, police said, adding that the accused has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
"Our associates are in shock over the whole incident. It's a senseless tragedy. We lost a very good associate who was loved by her co-workers and her customers," Pat Warner, vice president of Waffle House's corporate office, was quoted as saying by the 'Sun Herald'.
Mount is a former firefighter who was badly injured in a 2002 traffic accident. He suffered a traumatic brain injury in the accident, along with other injuries, said Rebecca Berry, a friend of Mount's family.
"I knew the name immediately. I am friends with his family," Berry said.
"This senseless tragedy is a shock for the Waffle House family. She will be greatly missed," said Kelly Thrasher-Bruner, a spokeswoman for Waffle House.
She said some franchises allow smoking but the one where Julia worked is smoke free.
Waffle House is a restaurant chain with more than 2,100 outlets in 25 states in the United States.