A Somali teenager said she confronted a white man at a McDonald’s in Eden Prairie over what she took as an ethnic slight and that he responded by waving a handgun at her and other young people before leaving.
Eden Prairie police said Tuesday they were investigating the altercation, which happened about 8 p.m. Monday at the fast-food restaurant on Prairie Center Drive in the heart of the city’s sprawling retail district.
A 45-second video circulating on Twitter starts at some point after several young people got into a confrontation with the man that led to him being shoved.
The man stumbled backward and out of the door. At that point the teens quickly backed away, and several people shouted that the man was holding a gun. A gun cannot be seen in the video. A police report said the man allegedly pulled the firearm from his waistband.
A manager then stepped in and ordered the young people out of the restaurant.
As of Tuesday evening, the video had been viewed on Twitter more than 745,000 times since it went live Monday night.
Police had yet to say whether they knew the identity of the man and whether he had a state-issued permit allowing him to carry a firearm in public.
“Officers obtained video evidence and witness statements from the scene, and police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident to determine if a crime was committed,” according to a statement released by city officials.
Jihan Abdullahi said she was the teenager who first drew the ire of the man as she tried to pay for an order.
Abdullahi, 17, said she and a friend both tried in vain to pay for an order with an app on their smartphone as the man stood behind them.
“Once we gave up on paying, we just canceled the order,” Abdullahi continued, “and as [we] are walking away, the man says under his breath, ‘You were paying with EBT; that’s why it didn’t work.’ ”
EBT is short for electronic benefit transfer and refers to government-funded food assistance.
Abdullahi said she responded, “ ‘Just because I’m black you think my friends and I live under EBT?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ ”
As other young people, also Somali, stepped in, “The man pulls out his gun and begins to say, ‘Whoa, whoa,’ and everyone backs up, and he runs out the door,” Abdullahi said.
The video shows the manager on duty directing everyone involved out of the restaurant, an order that Abdullahi said she and the others did not follow. Instead, she said, they waited a few minutes until police arrived and conducted interviews.
Omar Jamal, a Twin Cities community activist and head of the Somali Human Rights Commission, said he was troubled that “the store manager ordered them to leave in spite of the fact there was a man” outside who was said to have a gun.
“If I were the manager, and you were in there and mentioned the word ‘gun,’ then I have to go out and make sure there is no gun before I kick you out,” Jamal said.
Police urged anyone with information about the incident to call them at 952-949-6200.