A man attempted to strangle a female employee at a New Jersey Burger King after arguing with staff over the company’s face mask policy, police have said.
David Siversten, 47, allegedly strangled the employee when he returned to the Route 23 South restaurant at around 4.10 p.m. on March 27, after she complained that he was not wearing a face mask.
In a statement on the Wayne Police Department (WPD) Facebook page, Detective Captain Dan Daly said: “The female employee, who was outweighed by the male assailant by 80 pounds, stated that the suspect entered the restaurant, approached her and wrapped both hands around her neck and began strangling her.
“Video from the restaurant confirmed her description. The attack only ended when another female employee intervened and the suspect fled. The victim of the attack complained of pain but declined transport to a hospital.”
It continued: “Further investigation determined that the suspect was the same man who entered Burger King earlier the same day and argued with restaurant employees about his not wearing a mask.”
Siversten then fled the Burger King restaurant before police arrived. He was found as officers searched the surrounding area.
An alert patrol officer found a man matching Siversten’s description sitting in a driveway on Newark-Pompton Turnpike.
The WPD statement continued: “As the officer approached, the suspect came towards him stating: ‘You got me.'”
“The suspect was agitated and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. The officer detained the suspect and the victim was brought to his location and identified him as the man who had assaulted her. The suspect was placed under arrest.”
Siversten was charged with aggravated assault on a complaint warrant. Police added he became uncooperative during processing and “injured himself by intentionally slamming his head into the steel bench to which he was handcuffed.”
He was later transported to a nearby hospital and, once discharged, was taken to Passaic County Jail pending a hearing.
Assaults against staff at fast-food restaurants and other outlets have become such an issue in recent months that the CDC has issued guidance on limiting workplace violence related to COVID-19.
In a September 1 report, the CDC said: “Workers may be threatened and assaulted as businesses try to put into place COVID-19 prevention policies and practices.”
It then offered guidance on how to protect employees from the disease and also prevent workplace violence.
Violence against employees has happened at numerous fast-food restaurants. Last month, a Jack in the Box manager was stabbed by a customer who refused to wear a mask.
Newsweek has contacted Burger King for comment.