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Tensions amid coronavirus social distancing orders spilled over in an Arkansas restaurant where customers broke out into a fight in a dispute over personal space.
Things quickly turned violent at the Saltgrass Steakhouse in Little Rock over the weekend as video captured the scene when an argument over social distancing spiraled into a brawl between customers.
“All the restaurant employees were trying to help, they were just in shock like the rest of us,” Seth Crews, who filmed the incident on his cell phone, told KARK 4 News.
He related that he was at the restaurant having dinner with his brother when they heard the shouting coming from the bar area where, according to bystanders, a woman wearing a face mask had a confrontation with some other customers who apparently were standing too close to her.
WATCH: Saturday night dinner at Saltgrass Steakhouse in Little Rock turned violent after one customer was upset about the lack of social distancing.
Hear from someone who saw it all go down tonight on @KARK4News and @FOX16News
Warning: profanity is used. pic.twitter.com/wsez397453
— Hunter Hoagland (@HunterHoagland) June 29, 2020
An employee alleged that the woman in the video with a face mask was seen purposely coughing on other customers, and the melee began after she told two other patrons that they were not abiding by the physical distancing recommendations for COVID-19 for individuals to keep at least 6 feet apart, according to a report from the Little Rock Police Department.
The woman in the video told two men “you’re supposed to be six feet away from me,” before the argument escalated. A man seen in the video wearing a USA shirt and identified as a 56-year-old Louisiana resident, according to KATV, then moved even closer to the woman, further igniting tensions.
“The guy came up and was touching on his back and giving him a little shove and he just wasn’t taking it and that’s when it all started,” Crews recounted.
The woman, reportedly a 42-year-old Little Rock resident, told police that the man and his friends were the ones who were coughing on her and alleged that they were using racial slurs, KATV reported.
Witnesses relayed that the woman’s boyfriend then struck the other man with a bottle, setting off a fight that soon involved several people as restaurant staff and patrons tried to break up the skirmish. Crews, whose brother jumped in to help de-escalate the situation, believes the tense situation was entirely preventable.
“I think if just someone is telling you to stay away from them, you probably shouldn’t get near them, and maybe if you don’t want to get Coronavirus, don’t go to a restaurant,” he told KARK.
The news outlet noted that the county prosecutor reported that no one involved in the fracas has filed any charges though, according to the police report, they could seek warrants for third-degree battery.
Restaurants in Arkansas have been allowed to reopen recently with limited guest capacity but there have already been several reports of patrons who have refused to follow some of the guidelines, according to KATV. Dine-in service at Halcomb’s Taco Casa in Pocahontas was suspended last week after customers refused to wear masks.
We are sorry to have to do this, but due to the disrespectfulness and non compliant customers wearing their face masks…
A few days after resuming dine-service, La Hacienda in Benton also closed its doors last month after an “incident” forced the eatery to go back to offering only take-out and delivery options.
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