Chuck E. Cheese’s employees attacked by ‘mob’ from birthday party, police say


http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/03/09/chuck-e-cheeses-employees-attacked-by-mob-of-birthday-party-attendees-police-say/

A complaint over a malfunctioning photo booth at an Ohio Chuck E. Cheese’s escalated into a terrifying attack involving a dozen birthday party-goers on Sunday — an incident that left two employees seriously injured, according to police.

Police say a female patron complained to Chuck E. Cheese’s employees in Parma, Ohio, about the photo booth not working and that a manager told her she had to wait. Then, police said, one of the male party attendees followed the manager into the kitchen, threatened to kill him and began to attack.

Other employees tried to help their manager, and soon other party attendees joined the fracas and attacked the employees, police say. The brawl, which police say appears to have been one-sided, spilled into the dining room area, where children were present.

At least five men from the party are believed to have been directly involved in the attack, with up to a dozen party attendees egging on those fighting.

“I’m characterizing this as an attack on the employees of the restaurant by a mob of people,” Parma Police Lt. Kevin Riley told The Post. “There is no evidence at this point to show otherwise. This was an unprovoked attack on a bunch of employees trying to do their job.”

Two managers were seriously injured and taken to the hospital but have since been released, according to police. A total of six employees were injured, including one girl under the age of 18 who was struck in the face when she tried to call 911.

Those involved in the attack appear to be adults, police said, but they fled the scene before police arrived. On Tuesday, police released surveillance footage in an effort to track down the attackers.

“We are anxious to bring these individuals to justice and are actively working with Parma police to provide information that will lead to their arrest,” Chuck E. Cheese’s said in a statement.

In one 911 call released by police, a male restaurant employee tells the dispatcher: “I need cops, I need ambulances, I need everything.”

“I was standing back here, we had one manager come through being assaulted by a man,” the caller says. “I don’t know the backstory on it. And then the next thing I see several people crowding around the entrance of the kitchen, and I see a large fight breaking out.”

A female employee called 911 from the break room, where she told the dispatcher “everybody’s freaking out.”

“My managers, both of them, were attacked,” she said. “I don’t know if they had weapons.”

Several years ago, the Wall Street Journal published a story about violence at the pizza parlors, reporting: “Chuck E. Cheese’s bills itself as a place ‘where a kid can be a kid.’ But to law-enforcement officials across the country, it has a more particular distinction: the scene of a surprising amount of disorderly conduct and battery among grown-ups.”

From that story:

Fights among guests are an issue for all restaurants, but security experts say they pose a particular problem for Chuck E. Cheese’s, since it is designed to be a haven for children. Law-enforcement officials say alcohol, loud noise, thick crowds and the high emotions of children’s birthday parties make the restaurants more prone to disputes than other family entertainment venues.

In a statement after the attack in Ohio, Chuck E. Cheese’s said: “We take any incident in our stores very seriously and have spent more than $15 million to date on measures to help ensure the safety of our guests. With an environment dedicated to serving young children and families, we will not tolerate violence of any kind in our stores.

“As a company, the safety of our guests and employees is always a top priority and we will continue to endeavor to the protect the experience families have in our locations so parents are able to trust that their time in Chuck E. Cheese’s will be clean, safe, wholesome family fun.”

According to the company, there are more than 580 Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurants around the world.

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