MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Some Memphis store clerks and owners say customers have turned violent when asked to wear a mask.
Businesses get three warnings before they are fined for not enforcing the Memphis mask ordinance.
Last month, a store clerk at the BP gas station near Union Avenue and Cooper Street was attacked by a customer when she told her to put on a mask.
”It’s ridiculous. We’re asked to be police now,” said the store clerk who did not want to be identified.
The clerk says she’s had things thrown at her, she’s been called a racist, and on July 26 she was attacked by a customer.
“It’s hard because you never know what’s going to set someone off,” said the clerk.
Video surveillance shows a woman walking in the store without a mask.
The clerk says the two began to argue when she told her she had to have a facial covering to be serviced.
The clerk says the customer then spit at her.
“That’s not OK. It’s not OK to spit on another human being, COVID or not COVID. That’s just not OK,” said the clerk.
Footage shows the clerk walking outside towards the woman after the incident. The clerk said she was trying to get her car tag number.
The customer is then seen attacking the clerk again.
Another camera angle shows the altercation continuing inside the store. There was no audio, but the store clerk says she believes the woman was trying to take her phone because she thought she had a picture of her car.
The clerk says she suffered bruises on her arm, but the trauma runs deeper than that.
“It is because I have two children. I’m a single mom. I lost my husband last year. It’s tough.”
This certainly isn’t an isolated incident.
Police responded to the Mclemore Market in the 3400 block of Sharpe Avenue on Monday afternoon, where a verbal altercation over a customer’s refusal to wear a mask turned violent.
The customer told police after the argument he broke the windows of the store owner’s car.
The store owner, Faour Sukkar, allegedly fired three shots at the customer in retaliation. Luckily, no one was hurt.
On July 30, a customer walked out of the Snappy Mart near Madison Avenue and Cleveland Street without paying for his items, after he was told by the clerk to put on a mask.
When the clerk tried to confront the customer outside in the parking lot, the customer showed a gun and threatened the clerk.
The suspect has since been arrested.
The City of Memphis mask ordinance carries a fine for businesses that don’t enforce the rules.
However, the store clerk who was attacked says it’s not just about the money.
”Just be kind to the person behind the counter. Be kind to the person that’s ringing you up,” she said.
Memphis police said there have been no arrests in this case.
If you have any information, call Memphis Police or Crimestoppers at 901-528-CASH.