LORAIN – A passenger in a car in the drive-thru of the Oberlin Avenue Taco Bell was shot and killed during an apparent robbery attempt, police said.
Robert Gnizak, 49, of Lorain, was found dead in the car when police arrived at 11:03 p.m. Sunday.
Police described the suspect as a black man around 6 feet tall with a thin to medium build. He was wearing yellow or tan camouflaged pants, shirt and baseball hat, and fled on foot from the scene of the crime.
Capt. Roger Watkins said Gnizak was riding in the car with a female friend when the robbery happened.
“They pulled up to order food, a guy came up and tried to rob the people in the car, during the robbery attempt Mr. Gnizak was killed,” Watkins said.
A person in a car behind them called 911, police said.
Bob Gnizak, of Lorain.
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Gnizak served in the Navy from 1986 to 1990 and had been working at Super Kmart, his wife, Melissa Gnizak, said.
“He was a funny man,” she said. “He always called me the NFL – the ‘No Fun League’ because he was always the type to joke around.”
Bob Gnizak was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and lived in Amherst and North Ridgeville, where he met his future wife, before moving to Lorain. The couple was married in 1999.
Bob Gnizak loved to play video games, Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, and listen to music – his favorite performers were Meat Loaf and Ozzy Osborne.
“He loved to read. He was a book worm and a half,” Melissa Gnizak said. “He’d go to the library penny sales and come home with cases upon cases of books. (He believed) knowledge is power.”
To describe his sense of humor, Melissa Gnizak told the story of how her husband lost a finger. In 2002 his wedding band got caught in the door and “degloved” his finger, meaning the finger died and had to be cut off.
Melissa Gnizak arrived at the hospital and immediately asked the nurse to see the finger.
“She’s like, oh honey, you don’t want to see it, it’s really nasty,” Melissa Gnizak said. “And Bob and I, both at the same time, I said, ‘Oh, yes I do,’ and he said, ‘Oh, yes she does.’”
The next day when she came back to the hospital his hand was wrapped up and Melissa said she greeted her husband, “Hey Flipper, what’s up?
“And he said, ‘Flipper!’ I like that,” she said.
Bob Gnizak was adopted at age 4 with no connection to his birth parents but last year tried to find out more about his past when a law went into effect allowing access to records.
However, Melissa Gnizak said, the search was fruitless.
“He was adopted here in Lorain County but was born in Phoenix so Phoenix was saying, it’s Lorain’s problem and Lorain is saying, it’s Phoenix’s problem,” Melissa Gnizak said. “He wanted to pursue it. He was just taking some time because he was frustrated.”
Bob Gnizak did not have any children, but he was very close with his brother, Darrell, who lives in Elyria, and his nieces and nephews. He wanted to find out more about his parents for their health as well.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact the Lorain Police Detective Bureau at (440) 204-2105.
“This could have been any one of us,” Watkins said. “This victim did nothing wrong. He was just ordering food in a drive-thru.”