Sergeant Raymond Bush of the Fort Worth Police Department in Texas told the Examiner Monday that statements regarding employees locking themselves in a freezer at a Jack in the Box establishment in Texas were "taken out of context."
The story, first reported at a local NBC affiliate, written by Ken Kalthoff, created a media firestorm and was used by Bloomberg's "Moms Demand Action" gun control group to pressure Jack in the Box and Home Depot (where members of Open Carry Texas were demonstrating) to disallow open carry demonstrations on their premises.
The original news story reported that employees "were scared about the armed men protesting outside of the restaurant." Kalthoff cited an email from Sgt. Bush that quotes him as saying, “They locked themselves inside a freezer for protection out of fear the rifle-carrying men would rob them...” Moms Demand Action started an aggressive social media campaign, releasing a statement that said in part that the companies are subjecting customers “in search of building parts or burgers, to the potential for bullets.”
The statement laments,
"Texas moms were saddened to hear that, according to Fort Worth police, employees of the Jack In The Box were terrified of the armed group and even locked themselves in a walk-in freezer to protect themselves – and we can’t help but wonder, ‘what if one of our teenagers worked there?’"
ABC News declared, "Gun Advocates Spook Fast Food Workers Into Hiding in Freezer," and quoted Sergeant Bush as saying, “The employees were in fear for their lives.”
But Jack in the Box management disputed the claim. Jack in the Box’s President of Corporate Communications told the New York Times,
“Our employees told us that they did not hide in the freezer.”
As reported at Tavern Keepers, Jack In The Box Director of Asset Protection Gene James said,
“What I can raise my hand on and swear to an oath is that what I was told by my employees is that they did not seek refuge in the freezer. On its face, the freezer thing make no sense.”
Sgt. Bush told the Examiner that while he can confirm that "at least one officer spoke to at least one employee" who allegedly locked himself in the freezer, he "could not speculate" on the circumstances, as he "has not spoken to all fifteen officers" who descended upon the scene.
When asked if the statement could have been made jokingly, for example, Sergeant Bush repeated that he "could not speculate."
When confronted with the quote made in the original report, Bush said that it was "taken out of context." When asked if a police report would offer more information on the incident, Sergeant Bush said that there was no official police report as no charges were being filed, but an incident report gives "even less information" about the employee(s) who made the claim, he said.
When asked if the officer(s) involved would be interviewed about the incident by his department, Bush said it was a "dead issue" and what the media does is "not our business." In a follow-up email, the author asked for Sergeant Bush's email to the local NBC affiliate to be forwarded.
He responded via email, saying, "We have no new statements about this incident at this time."
CJ Grisham, President and Founder of Open Carry Texas did some speculating, though. He told the author that he believes "the department is trying to cover up their over-reaction to a non-emergency call with this tall tale."
Click on the video to listen to the 911 call that prompted the entire police department to descend on the Jack in the Box.