Local clerk assaulted over allegedly asking customer to wear mask

“When we told him that, he turns around and punches me in the chin,” Acosta said.

Posted: Jul 5, 2020 7:16 PM
Updated: Jul 6, 2020 10:50 AM

EUGENE, Ore.-- After a statewide mask mandate went into effect on Wednesday requiring all Oregonians to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces, many customers are taking their frustrations out on employees. 

RELATED: FACE MASKS REQUIRED STATEWIDE STARTING SOON

Many incidents have happened across the country involving growing frustrations over wearing masks, including in Oregon. 

Police are currently investigating an assault that took place around 8 p.m. on Thursday at Santa Clara Liquor.

Nick Acosta, 38, told KEZI 9 News the details of an encounter he had with a customer who refused to wear a face mask inside.

“My manager and I were speaking, and a gentleman entered the store with no mask on,” Acosta said. “We were trying to get his attention. Finally when we did, he started cursing at us, shouting and screaming before we could even say anything else."

Acosta said the customer began to leave the store, and when they told him he would not be allowed to enter again without a mask, things escalated quickly.

“When we told him that, he turns around and punches me in the chin,” Acosta said.

Surveillance video caught the entire encounter on tape. 

The store has accommodations for anyone who simply forgot their mask or has a medical condition. 

“I just couldn't even believe that somebody was that upset because we told him that he needed to have a mask on to enter the store,” Acosta said. “He didn't even let us finish. We have a store policy that if you don't have a mask, either we can sell you a mask or you can step outside and we will shop for you. If you have a medical condition also, you can stay outside and we will shop for you. But he didn't even let us get that far before he started freaking out.”

Store employees said this wasn’t the first encounter they have had with an angry customer, due to the mask mandate.

“We’ve had quite a few people get very upset, call us names and everything and leave the store without us even being able to finish that they can wait outside and we can shop for them,” Acosta said. “Lots of people mostly just go and get their mask and come back, but we’ve had quite a few unhappy customers.”

There’s one thing that Acosta, along with many others, want people to remember before entering a business.

“I just wish people would be a little more understanding, that it’s not my rule,” Acosta said. “It’s the state’s rule and we just gotta apply it.”

The suspect fled before police arrived. Police confirmed the incident with KEZI 9 News and are still investigating this incident.

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