A Wendy’s employee was shot in the head after a customer’s argument about extra barbecue sauce escalated into violence.
Brian Durham Jr., 16, was working at a Wendy’s location in Phoenix on Thursday night, positioned at the drive-thru cash register with another employee manning the window, his father, Brian Durham Sr., told Fox 11 News. At around 8 p.m., a customer at the window asked for extra barbecue sauce, which eventually escalated into an argument that ended with the man opening fire into the store.
“He was in the middle, and the other guy’s right there, ‘Hey, let me get some extra barbecue sauce,'” Durham Sr. said. “It became a confrontation. That somebody actually got shot over some barbecue sauce… So that was a confrontation, ’cause the dude couldn’t get no extra barbecue sauce. My son just stayed quiet and had the guy’s change in his hand. Just stayed quiet while the other two was in confrontation.”
According to a media release provided to Newsweek by the Phoenix police, the suspect approached the window on foot at the start of the incident. Following the shooting, he entered the passenger’s side of a vehicle and fled the scene.
Durham Jr. was shot during the incident, with a bullet grazing his brain. He was rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition and eventually managed to pull through following five hours of surgery. According to the teen’s father, however, the full effect of the injury on his cognitive abilities remains to be seen.
“They don’t know how his speech is going to be,” Durham Sr. told NBC 12 News. “They give him commands and he moves his fingers and toes but can’t talk.”
Approximately 20 hours after the shooting, the Phoenix Police Department arrested the alleged shooter and identified him as 27-year-old Theotis Polk. He now faces charges of aggravated assault.
“I forgive him, but I can’t forget,” Durham Sr. said after hearing of Polk’s arrest. “They caught him, my son is living, and I’m just happy.”
The job at Wendy’s is the first one Durham Jr. held, applying for it immediately after turning 16, his father said. The teen had hoped to help his mother pay bills while still a full-time student.
The family is now hoping for a swift and full recovery, so that Durham Jr. can still fulfill his dream of joining the military. A GoFundMe page was set up to help pay the teen’s medical bills, and as of Saturday morning, it had well exceeded its $10,000 goal.
Updated to reflect the response from Phoenix Police Department.