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DETROIT – A husband and wife are facing felony charges after an escalating shouting match outside a Michigan Chipotle restaurant Wednesday night. Videos of the incident cited by police show a woman, who had just been called racist, pointing a handgun at a Black family.
Jillian Wuestenberg, 32, and Eric Wuestenberg, 42, were each charged with one count of felonious assault, which is punishable by up to four years in prison.
Eric Wuestenberg, who is identified on the Oakland University website as a veterans support services coordinator, also was fired from his job.
"We have seen the video and we deem his behavior unacceptable," university spokesman Brian Bierley said, adding he "has been notified that his employment has been terminated."
In Thursday news conference, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the suspects each had legal handguns and concealed pistol licenses, but the charges stem from them using their guns to threaten the victims.
No gunshots were fired, and there were no injuries in the incident, Sgt. Dale Brown said.
Bouchard said the sheriff's detectives investigating the case were "presented with two very different stories from two different groups, with both sides claiming they felt extremely threatened."
Authorities are aware of two videos of the incident, Bouchard said. They depict the couple – who, over the course of the videos, enter their vehicle and leave the scene – and a mother and her two daughters who remain outside the vehicle.
The incident started at about 6 p.m. when the Wuestenbergs were leaving the Chipotle restaurant and unnamed victims were coming in, Bouchard said.
As one video starts, voices from an unclear source accuse Jillian Wuestenberg of bumping into a 15-year-old, demanding an apology and calling Wuestenberg "ignorant." Wuestenberg responds by saying she is being blocked from getting into her vehicle.
"You cannot just walk around calling white people racist," Wuestenberg says in the video.
Eric Wuestenberg steps into the frame after helping Jillian Wuestenberg into the vehicle. He then engages in the argument; one member of the family accuses him of being "racist and ignorant."
The shouting continues as the couple sits in their vehicle. Soon, Jillian Wuestenberg rolls up her window and the vehicle begins backing out.
What happens next is a blur of action. A person off-camera yells "Ma, watch!" and it appears the vehicle comes in close contact with someone walking behind it. Bouchard said a handprint was found on the back of the vehicle, although it was unclear how it got there.
When the camera is again still, Jillian Wuestenberg has exited the vehicle and appears to be pointing a handgun at a Black woman who is holding her phone up.
The yelling intensifies, as Jillian Wuestenberg repeatedly yells "get the (expletive) back" as she backs up. Voices from an unclear source say they are calling the police.
Jillian Wuestenberg appears to lower the gun and return to the vehicle, which then drives off.
A second, shorter video presented by police shows the confrontation from the perspective of the Black woman with the gun pointed at her.
Bouchard said that when police arrived, they handcuffed the suspects, took them into custody and confiscated their firearms.
"My suggestion to friends and family," Bouchard said, "is that if you can avoid a confrontation, do so. Nothing is worth escalation it to where someone gets hurt or killed."
Bouchard, a Republican, also went out of his way to make it clear the charge was decided by Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, a Democrat. He declined to offer any personal opinions of the charges.
After the videos gained attention, state Sen. Rosemary Bayer made a plea for gun legislation.
"There is nothing acceptable about what happened in Orion Township last night at the Chipotle," said Bayer, D-Beverly Hills "It is abhorrent to think that some in this country have such a sense of self-righteousness and entitlement that the idea of pulling a gun out on an unarmed child and her mother is okay."
Follow Frank Witsil on Twitter: @fwitsil
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Michigan couple charged after viral video in Chipotle parking lot