A 16-year-old Wendy’s employee in Phoenix was shot in the head through the drive-thru window of the fast-food chain after a customer opened fire during a dispute over barbecue sauce, the victim’s family said.
According to 12NEWS KPNX, the incident occurred on Thursday night, and Brian Durham Jr. was struck in the head after another employee and a customer got into a dispute. Brian’s father, Brian Durham Sr., said his son was positioned between the restaurant’s window and another employee at the time of the shooting. And his son was operating the cash register when the shooter demanded more barbeque sauce from the other employee.
“So, the dude on the outside tells him, ‘no, you [have] to pay for it,’ so he started getting louder,” the victim’s father said. “The [suspect] got up, out of his car, walked up to the window and just shot… didn’t care about life.”
Durham Sr. also told ABC15 he did not think his son was involved in the confrontation. “Yes, barbecue sauce,” he said in reference to the cause of the dispute. “And it wasn’t even meant for him. And I guess it was a confrontation between two other people, and he was like the register man. So, he was stuck in the middle.”
Brian was transported to the hospital in critical condition following the shooting. His father said he was later transferred to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital for a five-hour surgery. “They said how the bullet fragments [hit his brain], they don’t know how his speech is going to be,” Durham Sr. told 12NEWS KPNX. “They give him commands and he moves his fingers and toes but can’t talk.”
The teen is said to be in a stable condition following the shooting. Brian’s father also said he took up the job at Wendy’s to support his mother and siblings. “B-man is the man. Not too many 16-year-old kids go to school and work,” he told ABC15.
In the wake of the shooting, police said the suspect entered the passenger side of a car which subsequently fled the scene. The suspected shooter, identified as 27-year-old Theotis Polk, was arrested on Friday, Phoenix Police said.
“I forgive him, but I can’t forget,” Durham Sr. told 12NEWS KPNX. “They caught him, my son is living, and I’m just happy.”
The suspected shooter faces aggravated assault charges. A GoFundMe has also been set up to help raise funds to cover Brian’s medical expenses.