HOUSTON, Texas – A dispute over litter in the parking lot turned into a fight in which employees at a Texas Taco Bell are accused of using a butcher knife and hot grease against customers.
The June 1 incident happened at a Taco Bell store in southwest Houston, and there are diverging stories about exactly what happened, reports KIAH. What is certain is that the fight ended with two teens suffering severe burns, with one of them in intensive care.
Haronisha Alexander, 19, says she, her cousin and boyfriend were at the drive-thru ordering food around 3 p.m. on June 1. She threw a bottle out the window, and the worker in the drive-thru—a man who claimed to be the manager—saw it and told her to pick it up.
Alexander refused because it was raining and she didn’t “feel like” picking up the bottle. Things quickly escalated from there, she told KIAH.
"He threw drinks and spit in my face and stuff, so my cousin went in to tell the manager, and the same man who did it ran from behind the counter with a butcher knife," she said.
Alexander said chairs were thrown around in the restaurant and her cousin ended up getting stabbed. When her boyfriend came to break up the fight, employees threw hot grease on him, she said.
The boyfriend, 17-year-old Johnson Moore, was rushed to the hospital. Alexander said she then called police; she and her cousin returned to Taco Bell about 45 minutes later to talk with investigators. She said another altercation ensued in which she was doused with grease.
According to police reports, there were two separate incidents on June 1 involving the same group, although the account from employees differs slightly.
Officers responded to the Taco Bell during the second incident. Employees said Alexander returned to the restaurant and tried to break in because the doors were locked. Alexander then went to the drive-thru window and banged on it, breaking the frame. Then she started throwing rocks at the front entrance, the report said, until she broke a window. Employees also said she threatened them; one of the workers threw hot oil on her. The employee said she was scared for her life.
Alexander suffered third-degree burns on her arms, back, neck and legs. Her boyfriend has burns over 70 percent of his body and was scheduled to have surgery Thursday. He remains in intensive care.
"It's just really messed up that they would get grease out of the deep fryer and throw it on us. Can you imagine how hot that is? You couldn't imagine the pain we went through," Alexander said.
Community activist Quanell X said the whole incident got out of hand. He wants Taco Bell management and employees arrested and charged.
"What's taking you so long to indict these employees and charge them appropriately with throwing boiling hot grease on disgruntled customers during an argument over food?" he asked. "If you get into a disagreement at any restaurant, you do not deserve to have employees throw boiling hot grease on you and stab somebody else with a butcher knife."
The activist, who maintained that Taco Bell policy forbids employees from coming behind the counter during a dispute, said the incident was captured on surveillance video. That video hasn’t been released.
Taco Bell provided a statement to KIAH and called the brawl a “traumatic incident.”
"The safety of our employees and customers is our top priority and we are very upset this happened in our restaurant. We are cooperating with the Houston police in their investigation and are in process of filing charges and property damage complaints with them. This was a traumatic incident for our employees and we are supporting them by offering counselling."
The case is currently under investigation. No charges have been filed.