SEGUIN, Texas – Before 33-year-old Tony Dwayne Albert II was arrested by Seguin police Sunday morning, employees at the family-owned and-operated Las Mañanitas Mexican Restaurant said he stopped at the restaurant and had an odd exchange with a waitress, prompting them to call police.
Brianna Jimenez, a waitress at the restaurant, said she saw Albert walk in wearing a construction-type mask and sunglasses. She said as she rose to greet him, he motioned for her to sit back down and continued to the restroom.
"I noticed he was in there for a while, but I didn't make a big deal about it because, you know, it's not my business," she explained. "We had this other customer, and he came in and got his tacos, and that's when I kind of smelled, like, smoke -- coming from somewhere."
Jimenez said she initially ignored the smell, attributing it to another customer, then began rolling silverware. She said Albert exited the restroom and approached her in a manner that "weirded (her) out."
"(Albert) was looking at me and he was saying something about, 'Do you know where the nearest church is at?'" Jimenez said. "And he said Baptist church."
Jimenez pointed out the Door Christian Fellowship Church, which is located directly next to the restaurant, but Jimenez said she wasn't sure if it was a Baptist church.
"He was like, 'I've been to that church many years ago,'" Jimenez said. "I just said, 'Oh, OK,' and then he was like, 'Do you know where the other Baptist church is at?'"
Jimenez said she asked her mother, who owns the restaurant, if she knew where other Baptist churches were and her mother provided Albert with directions. Jimenez said Albert repeatedly asked if she could take him to the church, even after she explained that she couldn't because she was working.
"When he slowly walks away, that's when I finally see he has a weapon, and he's gripping it, like, he has his finger on the trigger," Jimenez recalled.
She said she remained calm and kept her eyes on Albert as he exited the restaurant to see where he was headed. She then called out to another employee to very discreetly lock the door so as to not alert Albert. Then Jimenez's mother called police.
There weren't customers in the restaurant at that time, Jimenez said.
Jimenez and her relatives took cover and waited for police to arrive. She said police told her Albert had been doing methamphetamine in the restroom. However, police said Monday there was no methamphetamine located at the scene, nor was there methamphetamine found on Albert.
While Jimenez didn't immediately think of the possibility that Albert could have been up to something criminal, she said others have called her a hero for having the instinct to have her mom report the suspicious behavior.
"Now that I think about it, he could've taken a trip to any church and -- a lot of people leave in body bags," Jimenez said. "That kind of hurts me, like, what if? You know what I mean? What if that really happened?"
Police spokeswoman Tanya Brown said an off-duty officer caught up to Albert in the 2200 block of West Kingsbury Street. According to authorities, Albert thought he was in another city, although police didn't say which city due to the ongoing investigation, and that Albert said he was on his way to an unknown church within that city to fulfill a prophecy.
"We're extremely grateful (for the person who called 911), and I know the citizens of Seguin are (grateful), regardless of if he thought he was somewhere else," Brown said. "(Albert) could have carried out a shooting, or he was capable of doing that, because he had a loaded handgun."
Brown said it's unclear what exactly Albert's intentions were, namely whether he intended to carry out a shooting. She said that the Texas Rangers, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have been called in for assistance in interviewing Albert.
He is behind bars at the Guadalupe County Jail on charges of possession of marijuana and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He is being held on $100,000 bail, according to online records.