A Taco Bell employee was left in critical condition after an irate customer opened fire in the store after getting into a dispute over change, the latest in a recent history of violent fast food exchanges.
The incident took place at approximately 9:30 a.m. ET on Saturday at the Taco Bell franchise located at 8812 Albemarle Road in Charlotte, North Carolina.
According to law enforcement officials, a man in the restaurant’s drive-thru lane got into a dispute with an employee, claiming that he had been given insufficient change.
The altercation escalated until the customer got out of their car and entered the establishment. They then brandished a gun and opened fire.
“Witness statements indicate that after ordering food, the suspect became aggressive in the drive-thru when he believed he had been given an incorrect amount of change,” the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said in an official statement. “The suspect proceeded to leave the drive-thru and come inside the restaurant where he became more aggressive, produced a firearm, and began shooting inside the restaurant. The suspect fled the scene.”
Upon arriving at the scene, police officers found one employee of the Taco Bell location suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. They were transported to a nearby hospital with life-threatening injuries. As of Monday, their condition is unknown.
The suspect, later identified in local reports as 67-year-old Doll McLendon, was located after officials acquired details about the make of his vehicle from security footage and testimony from eyewitnesses.
Investigators were able to find his car parked at an apartment complex and obtained a warrant for his arrest. He was ultimately taken into police custody without incident and now faces charges of attempted murder and discharging a weapon in an occupied property. The investigation into the incident remains ongoing.
Taco Bell told Newsweek, “We are shocked to hear that this happened. We understand that the franchise owner and operator of this location is working with the local authorities in their investigation and will be offering support to all team members present.”
“I don’t really focus on minor things; it shouldn’t really bother people,” local resident Jazmyn Jackson told local station WSOC-TV. “Small things like not getting the right change or not getting the right food is not worth killing or shooting someone for sure.”
Instances of violence at fast food restaurants have been somewhat common over the last few years, with some of the altercations even turning fatal.
In January 2022, a Taco Bell worker at a store in Los Angeles was shot dead after refusing to accept counterfeit money from a customer using the drive-thru lane.
A few months later, at a Taco Bell in Santa Rosa, a customer was arrested after getting into an altercation with another customer in the drive-thru lane, with the suspect at one point pulling a handgun on the other man.
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