A woman opened fire in a McDonald’s in Oklahoma City on Wednesday evening, injuring at least three employees, the authorities said, after she was told the restaurant’s dining area was closed, in line with the company’s coronavirus precautions.
Around 6 p.m., the woman, Gloricia Woody, walked into the McDonald’s, about nine miles south of downtown, and refused to leave after employees told her the dining area was closed, according to Capt. Larry Withrow of the Oklahoma City Police Department. An argument broke out between Ms. Woody, 32, and an employee, and Ms. Woody was “forced out” of the restaurant, Captain Withrow said.
He said the specifics of the argument were not immediately clear, including whether it centered on the restaurants’ social-distancing measures.
“We can’t say she’s mad about that and that’s what started the fight,” Captain Withrow said. “I don’t know what triggered her into the confrontation. That just happened to be the sequence of events.”
But Ms. Woody came back in with a handgun and fired three shots, he said.
One round hit an employee in the arm and two other employees were struck by shrapnel, Captain Withrow said. A fourth employee also had a head injury, but it was not immediately clear how she sustained it. The injuries were all not life-threatening, he said.
Ms. Woody was arrested near the McDonald’s after the shooting, Captain Withrow said. She is in custody on charges of assault and battery, the police said.
Ms. Woody did not yet have a lawyer, her mother said in a telephone interview on Thursday. She said that her daughter disputed the police account, saying that she had not been told the dining room was closed. She also said that Ms. Woody had tried to place an order and that she was defending herself against employees who attacked her while she took a phone call in the restaurant.
Chris Kempczinski, the chief executive of McDonald’s, said in an interview on “Good Morning America” on Thursday that the shooting was a “heinous crime” because the employees were trying to protect public health.
“I think what you’re seeing in this situation is really what you’re seeing in a variety of situations across the country, which is this tension about opening and people’s concern about it. But there is absolutely no excuse for violence, particularly gun violence,” he said. “I’m just happy our people are going to be OK.”
While about half of U.S. states have begun to reopen their economies and public life in some meaningful way, social-distancing measures are still common.
The restrictions have, in some cases, generated fierce blowback across the country, despite polls showing a majority of Americans support the measures. Small numbers of people have staged raucous protests demanding social-distancing measures be lifted.
There have also been reports of violence associated with the restrictions. In Flint, Mich., a security guard at a Family Dollar store was fatally shot last week after an altercation over a customer’s refusing to wear a face covering.
A man pushed a park ranger in Austin into a lake last week after the ranger told members of a crowd to stay six feet apart from one another, The Austin American-Statesman reported. The ranger was speaking to a group of people who were illegally drinking and smoking, according to an arrest affidavit cited by The Statesman.
In Stillwater, Okla., an emergency proclamation mandating face coverings led to so much verbal abuse in its first three hours last week — and a threat involving a gun — that officials amended it. Masks became encouraged, not required.
McDonald’s restaurants have been scenes of violence in the past. In 1984, 21 people were killed at a restaurant in San Diego after a gunman walked in and opened fire.