Three women are accused of assaulting a 17-year-old restaurant hostess in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, because they were upset their large group could not all be seated together due to coronavirus social-distancing rules, police said.
The incident occurred Sunday after a large group of women entered a Chili’s restaurant and asked to be seated at the same table, Baton Rouge police said in a news release.
“The employee advised the group that due to social distancing requirements, the business only allowed six at a table,” the release said.
The employee was then physically assaulted by multiple people in the group, police said. She was treated at a local hospital for her injuries.
Three of the women, Tammy Dabney, 48, Rodneka Dabney, 27, and Erica Dabney, 46, all of Baton Rouge, were arrested Thursday in connection with the incident, police Sgt. Don Coppola Jr. said Friday.
Tammy Dabney faces charges of aggravated second-degree battery. Erica Dabney and Rodneka Dabney face charges of disturbing the peace and simple battery.
It was not clear if any of the three have lawyers. Attempts to reach the three suspects Friday were not immediately successful.
Coppola said anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers helped lead to the arrests and that the investigation is ongoing.
A request for comment to the Chili’s media relations office did not receive an immediate response.
Police did not identify the Chili’s worker, but she has been identified in a GoFundMe campaign as Kelsy Wallace.
Wallace was not available for an interview Friday, but her aunt, Lorraine Williams, who started the GoFundMe, said her niece is haunted by the assault.
“Emotionally she is a wreck,” Williams said in a telephone interview Friday. “She has a lot of nightmares and fears.”
Wallace has begun seeing a behavioral therapist because she is showing signs of anxiety, Williams said.
“She doesn’t like to be alone,” Williams said, adding that Wallace has been having trouble sleeping at night. “She just went to bed this morning.”
The aunt said the assault occurred after Wallace refused to seat a party of 13 at the same table because the restaurant’s per-table limit is six due to the coronavirus.
Wallace, a high school senior, had to have stitches above her eye after the incident and had a chunk of her hair pulled out, her aunt said.
Wallace told People that one woman in the group of customers pushed her, and she pushed her back.
“I was kind of fighting for my life,” Wallace told the magazine. “I was really scared, calling out for my mama.”
She said she does not plan to return to her job, saying the incident “really has taken an emotional toll on me; not just physically, but emotionally as well.”