Man arrested after allegedly punching Utica restaurant staff for asking him to wear a face mask

A man is accused of punching a manager, bartender on July 10 after they asked him to wear face covering

Police are investigating after a man assaulted two workers at Black Rock Bar & Grill in Utica on July 10.

UTICA, Mich. – A suspect has been arrested following an altercation in Macomb County between restaurant staff and a customer after the customer was asked to wear a face covering.

A man allegedly assaulted a manager and bartender at Black Rock Bar & Grill in Utica on July 10 after being asked to put on a face mask to comply with their coronavirus (COVID-19) safety protocols.

The suspect in question entered the restaurant with a group of eight more people -- none of them complying with social distancing or face covering requirements, officials said.

When the group headed to the bar, staff asked the group to return to the lobby and put on face masks. Most of the group complied, but one man became infuriated and began verbally assaulting the female staff members.

The manager called 9-1-1. The man is accused of punching that manager and a bartender when they asked him to leave after he repeatedly refused to put a mask on.

RELATED: Michigan Gov. Whitmer can’t understand violence ‘over wearing piece of cloth on your face’

Officials said he ran from the restaurant before police arrived on scene.

Police said July 24 that the suspect in question has been arrested, booked and released pending charges. The suspect’s information and the charges against him have not been shared by police.

Utica Police Detective Seargent Greg Morabito previously said that attacking restaurant personnel won’t be tolerated.

“They’re just trying to keep everybody safe right now, they’re trying to do what the governor wants them to do to keep patrons safe and I don’t think the request to put the mask on was unreasonable,” Morabito said.

Face masks are now required by law to be worn in most indoor spaces and some outdoor spaces in Michigan due to a recent increase in COVID-19 cases and spread.

As of Thursday, Michigan is reporting 75,947 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,148 deaths.

COVID-19 cases are increasing at a more rapid pace across Michigan in recent weeks. Thursday’s update represents 699 new cases in one day -- one of the state’s highest increases since May.

MORE: What Michigan restaurants can do to make sure masks are worn

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.