Imagine complaining because some chips are missing from the combo you ordered at a fast food restaurant and that, instead of handing them to you, the person attending you pulls out a gun and shoots you through the window of the drive thru.
That's what happened on March 3, 2021, to a Hispanic family at a Jack in the Box restaurant franchise establishment in Houston, Texas, according to a lawsuit customers filed earlier this month against the restaurant.
Anthony Ramos had moved from Florida to Houston for work that year when he met his wife, Jeraldin Ospina, and their 6-year-old daughter at an airport, and they all left in the same car to buy food. The woman was pregnant at the time.
They paid for a combo, but their order was missing the fries. After complaining, a heated argument broke out with Alonniea Ford, the employee who delivered the order through the window of the drive thru, the couple's attorney, Randall L. Kallinen, said in a statement.
None of the occupants were injured.
Alonniea Ford loads the gun from behind customers, according to the restaurant's surveillance camera footage. Randall Kallinen
In a video released by the plaintiffs this month, the exchange between Ford and the family can be seen: when they arrive, when they complain, when the worker appears to carry a silver gun, when the argument worsens and finally when she pulls the gun out the window and shoots the vehicle in which the family flees in terror.
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According to court documents cited by the local NBC News station, Ford refused to complete the order and customers asked to speak with the person in charge of the restaurant, but "the manager did not come or attempt to mediate to resolve the situation."
During the argument, the employee threw tomato sauce, ice and other products into the vehicle, according to the lawsuit. Then he shot them. When the family reached a safe place they called the police.
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"It was very, very scary. I am usually a very cautious, protective person, but at that time I was overwhelmed," Ramos was quoted as saying by the local station. "I've never had such an experience before, I was stunned."
The family has asked for compensation for the incident and for the physical, emotional and economic consequences it has had. The plaintiffs are also demanding that the restaurant change its hiring policies.
"Jack-In-The-Box needs to conduct a background check on its employees so as not to expose its clients to someone who will try to kill them," Kallinen said.
The employee was initially charged with deadly conduct with a firearm, but the charge was reduced to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He pleaded guilty to the latter crime in 2022, according to the family's lawyers. He served six days and jail and one year on probation.
The woman had been convicted of making terrorist threats in 2012.
Jack in the Box declined to comment on the ongoing litigation, according to the affiliate, "particularly those that include independent franchise owners." The restaurant in Houston is owned by A3H Foods General Partner, LLC.