A teenage hostess at a Chili’s restaurant at in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, went to a hospital with minor injuries after an alleged attack by a group of customers upset over COVID-19 seating restrictions.
Kelsy Wallace, 17, says she was attacked Sunday when she tried to enforce the restaurant’s social-distancing polices and informed the group of women they wouldn’t be able to sit together, WAFB reported.
“My general manager and my other managers tell us we cannot sit a table bigger than six because of the corona[virus],” she told the news station. “We’re supposed to separate them.”
Wallace said there were more than 11 women in the group.
We mask, we distance, we disinfect, we check every safety box THEN, sanitize the box we just checked.
The women grew more irate, so the teen called her manager over to try and defuse the escalating situation, according to WBRZ. That’s when Wallace says one of the guests shoved her, and an altercation ensued.
“All I knew was to push her back. I reacted,” she told the station. “That’s when her and her daughters, they all came. They’re like, 20, 30, and the woman that pushed me looked like she was 40. They’re on me, beating me. I’m standing there trying to hit them, trying to get all of them off me. And the lady, she takes a wet floor sign and slams it in my eye.”
“I had blood rushing everywhere,” Wallace recalled.
Baton Rouge police were called to the bar and grill around 4:45 p.m. after reports of a “battery involving a juvenile employee,” according to The Advocate. However, the alleged attackers were gone by the time officers arrived at the restaurant.
Baton Rouge police spokesman Sgt. Don Coppola Jr. said Wallace suffered moderate injures and was treated at a hospital, according to the newspaper.
Wallace told WAFB the women pulled the hair from her scalp and caused a gash above her eye that required stitches. A few of her nails were bloodied and broken.
“I was just trying to follow the rules and make sure that I wasn’t going to get in trouble,” she said, according to the news station. “Like this is just overwhelming. I just cannot believe that this happened to me of all people.”
The teen also blasted her managers for failing to step in and letting the women get away. Wallace said she wants the group to be held responsible.
“I want them in jail,” she told WBRZ. “I don’t think they should get away with this.”
A Chili’s spokesperson addressed the incident in a statement, saying they were “disappointed” by what had taken place.
“We do not tolerate violent behavior in our restaurants, and are taking this incident very seriously as the safety and health of our Team Members and Guests is our top priority,” it read in part, according to WAFB.
McClatchy News reached out to Chili’s for comment and is awaiting a response.
Wallace is still employed by the restaurant but said she has no plans of going back.
The incident remains under investigation, authorities said.