SENTENCING UPDATE: Lake Wales man who shot McDonald’s ceiling sentenced to 20 years

Willie Watson III stepped into McDonald’s, raised a gun over his head, and fired a single shot into the ceiling.

Willie Watson III, 45, of Lake Wales.

Watson, 45, walked past the registers and toward the drive-through window and yelled, “Give that —– up!” He paced back and forth before walking toward the exit, where he yelled at two elderly people and demanded they sit down, preventing them from leaving the scene.

Watson left the restaurant without taking anything.

A jury convicted Watson Wednesday of attempted armed robbery with a firearm, shooting into a building and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison following trial.

At about 8:30 a.m. January 8, surveillance footage caught Watson exiting a minivan outside the McDonald’s wearing a dark colored hoodie and a red bandana covering his face. He was also wearing black gloves and was holding a black firearm.

The defense agreed there was a shooting that Sunday morning at McDonald’s but that Watson did not do it. During trial, Watson testified that he lent the minivan to someone with a similar stature to his.

But Assistant State Attorney Mikaela Perry told jurors that multiple pieces of evidence placed Watson at the scene.

A gunshot residue test was conducted on Watson after he was arrested, and residue particles were found on his hands.

A single black glove was left at the scene. The DNA on it was a match for Watson.

A shell casing was located at the scene. When law enforcement searched the minivan Watson was seen exiting at McDonald’s, they found a firearm.

It was a match for the casing.

“The defense wants you to think he’s the unluckiest man in the world,” Perry told the jury during her closing arguments. “But all the evidence points in one direction, and that is toward Willie Watson.”

State Attorney Brian Haas said he was thankful for the excellent work of the Lake Wales Police Department in investigating and solving this case.

“I also appreciate the hard work and dedication of Assistant State Attorney Mikaela Perry in securing this conviction and putting this dangerous felon in prison for many years,” Haas said.