HOUSTON -- What started out as a dispute over litter in a parking lot, turned into an all-out brawl at a Taco Bell in southwest Houston, with employees allegedly using a butcher knife and boiling hot grease to fight off customers.
The melee broke out at the restaurant in the 3100 block of the South Loop near Main, and what exactly happened, depends on who you ask. What we do know is two teens were left with severe burns -- one is in intensive care -- and no charges have been filed. Something that community activist Quanell X, who is representing one of the teens, is calling "insanity."
"We are here to speak out and condemn the actions of employees at the Taco Bell restaurant, and in fact, condemn the actions and behavior of the manager at this Taco Bell," Quanell X said at a press conference Wednesday.
Warning: The photos released to the media of the severe grease burns can be disturbing
The first part of the story comes from Haronisha Alexander, the 19-year-old who was burned.
Alexander said she was a passenger in a car with her cousin and boyfriend and they were at the drive-thru getting food around 3 p.m. on June 1. Alexander said she threw trash out of the window and a man claiming to be the restaurant manager saw her.
"I just threw a bottle out the window and he wanted me to pick it up and I told him 'No,'" she said.
Alexander said she refused to do so because it was raining and she did not "feel like" picking up the bottle.
Things escalated from there. She said the manager threw a fountain drink at her.
"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 being thrown around in the restaurant and her cousin was stabbed. She said her boyfriend got out of the car and went in to try and break up the fight, and that is when he was injured.
"When they grabbed the door to go into the restaurant, is when the hot boiling grease was thrown on her boyfriend," Quanell X said.
The boyfriend, Johnson Moore, was rushed to the hospital and Alexander says they called police to report the incident. Alexander says she and the cousin returned to the restaurant about 45 minutes later to wait on the police and that is when they got into another altercation with the employees and grease was thrown on her.
A police report acknowledged there were two separate incidents involving the same groups that day, but employees told a slighlty different version.
According to police reports, officers respond to the Taco Bell a second time. Employees said that the girlfriend returned and tried to break into the locked restaurant. The dining area of the restaurant was closed at that time. The girlfriend then went to the drive-thru window and banged on it until the frame broke. The person then went to the front entrance and threw rocks, breaking a window, and threatened to kill employees. A female employee, who feared for her safety, threw hot oil on the woman.
Quanell X said this case got out of hand, and the management and employees should be arrested.
"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 ?" Quanell 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."
Quanell said Taco Bell has a policy that states no employees are allowed to come from behind the counter during any type of dispute or while dealing with disgruntled customers.
Alexander suffered third-degree burns on her arms, back, neck and legs. She said she is in extreme pain and has to change her burn dressings daily. She doesn't want anyone else to go through what they did.
"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," she said.
The boyfriend, who is 17 years old, remains in intensive care at Memorial Hermann Hospital with burns over 70 percent of his body. He is scheduled to have surgery on Thursday.
The case is currently under investigation and no charges have been filed.
Quanell X said the entire incident was captured on surveillance video at the restaurant, but the company has not released the footage.
Taco Bell released the following statement:
"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."