MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There are concerns surrounding how a situation was handled this week after a group of Somali teens alleged that a man pulled a gun on them inside an Eden Prairie McDonald’s restaurant.
Eden Prairie police are investigating the incident, which happened Monday night at the restaurant on Prairie Center Drive, near the city’s shopping mall.
Police arrested 55-year-old Lloyd Edward Johnson Wednesday afternoon on probable cause second-degree assault. Johnson, from Eden Prairie, is being held at Hennepin County Jail in downtown Minneapolis.
Omar Jamal, a Somali community activist, told The Star Tribune that he’s concerned how the store management responded to the situation, which was captured in a now viral video, showing a manager demanding that the teens leave immediately.
“If I were the manager, and you were in there and mentioned the word ‘gun,’ then I have to go out and make sure there is no gun before I kick you out,” he told the newspaper.
One of the teens involved in the incident, Farida Osman, told the website Muslim Girl that it happened after her and her friends left the nearby library to get food. When workers at the restaurant had trouble processing her friends’ Apple Pay orders, Johnson, who was standing in line, allegedly commented that they were using EBT, electronic welfare benefits.
Insulted by the remark, the teens confronted Johnson, who began to curse at them, Osman told the blog. The situation escalated, becoming physical. When Johnson walked out of the restaurant, he allegedly flashed a gun at the teens.
The incident was captured on video and posted to Twitter, showing the man push a teen and back out of the restaurant, facing the group. It’s unclear if he had a gun.
As of Wednesday morning, the video posted to Twitter has been viewed more than one million times.
The 45-second clip also showed the McDonald’s manager immediately demand that the teens leave the restaurant. Another customer then comes to the teens’ aid, telling the manager to call the police.
The McDonald’s owner and operator, Paul Ostergaard, released a statement Tuesday, saying that the restaurant is taking the incident seriously and is working with police.
“Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our customers and employees,” the statement said.
Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR-Minnesota, applauded the arrest in a statement Wednesday.
“We welcome the arrest of a suspect in this disturbing incident and look forward to appropriate charges being brought by state and federal law enforcement agencies,” Hussein said. “We thank Eden Prairie police for their swift and professional investigating leading to this arrest.”
Eden Prairie police are still interviewing witnesses and reviewing videos of the incident. Anyone with more information on the incident is asked to call police at 952-949-6200.