Man Shoots Waffle House Cook After Refusing to Wear Face Mask Inside Restaurant

A Colorado man is accused of shooting a Waffle House employee just a day after he was told to wear a face mask in the restaurant. Kelvin Watson, 27, was arrested and charged with first-degree attempted murder on Monday in connection to the May 15 incident, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by ABC 11.

According to the affidavit, the incident began on May 14, when Watson entered the Waffle House location in suburban Denver, which was only offering take-out, without a mask. After a waitress informed Watson that he would not be served without a mask, Watson left and later returned with a mask, though he was not wearing it. He was again told that he could not be served, leading to Watson pulling out a gun and placing it on the counter, telling the cook that he could "blow your brains out."

Although Watson left the restaurant, he returned the following night. After being told that he would not be served, he slapped the cook across the face, the affidavit reports. As the cook attempted to run away, Watson allegedly shot them either in the chest or abdomen outside of the restaurant.

The cook was taken to a hospital, according to police, and released Friday afternoon. The city of Aurora does not mandate the wearing of face masks or coverings in public and Waffle House currently doesn’t have a policy requiring it, though they are required in some communities across the Denver metro area and the Tri-County Health Department, which covers Aurora strongly advises wearing face coverings when in public.

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In a statement obtained by KDVR, Njeri Boss, Director of Public Relations for Waffle House, said that the company was "relieved to hear that Aurora police have made an arrest for this terrible crime, and greatly appreciate the diligence of local law enforcement." Calling the incident "a senseless act of violence that should not be tolerated in any community," Boss added that "our thoughts and well wishes remain with our associate who was injured and now is recovering at home."

The incident marked just the latest example of violence in response to the usage of face coverings in public. A man at a Texas 99 Cents Only Store charged at, pushed, grabbed, and shoved other customers when he was told that he would either have to put on a face mask or leave the store. Meanwhile, a now viral video showed one shopper involved in a disagreement with a Costco employee who asked the customer to leave when he refused to comply to the company’s policy requiring all employees and shoppers to wear face masks in warehouses.