Man shoots Waffle House cook after refusing to wear face mask inside restaurant, authorities say

DENVER -- A man is accused of shooting and wounding a Waffle House employee in suburban Denver the night after being asked to wear a face covering inside the restaurant, authorities said.

Police in Aurora arrested Kelvin Watson, 27, on Monday on a charge of attempted first-degree murder, KDVR reported. Court records show Watson is represented by the Arapahoe County public defender's office, which did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Tuesday.

According to an arrest affidavit, employees told investigators Watson came to the restaurant shortly after midnight Thursday, and a waitress told him he needed to wear a mask to be served. The restaurant was only offering carry-out service.

Watson allegedly returned with a mask that he was not wearing and was again told he could not be served. Witnesses said he put a small gun on the counter before telling the cook he could "blow your brains out," according to the affidavit.

The following night, just after midnight Friday, police said Watson returned and slapped the cook across the face when he was told again he was not going to be served. Watson is accused of shooting the cook in the chest or abdomen outside of the restaurant as the cook ran to get away. The cook was released from a hospital Friday afternoon.

"We are deeply saddened and regret that this senseless act of violence occurred," Waffle House spokesperson Njeri Boss said.

Aurora does not require masks or face coverings in public places like some other communities in metro Denver.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
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