Eden Prairie, Minn., police arrested a white man who allegedly threatened a group of mostly Somali-American teenagers with a firearm on Monday night.
Lloyd Edward Johnson, 55, was taken into custody on Nov. 21 for probable cause second-degree assault. Authorities said they’re still investigating the incident, which happened at the McDonald’s restaurant near Eden Prairie’s shopping mall, The New York Times reported.
A video of Johnson’s confrontation with the teens went viral on Twitter this week and was retweeted over 7,000 times. The incident started on Monday night before 8 p.m. according to Jihan Abdullahi, 17, who was one of the teenagers in the group. She said she and her friends decided to head to the restaurant after doing homework in the library.
“This is the McDonald’s we go to every day,” the 17-year-old said. “It’s our hangout spot.”
The group of teens tried using Apple Pay for payment, but the system wasn’t working. Johnson who was standing behind Abdullahi and her friends grew impatient and began complaining they were taking too long. As they walked away, he suggested they were using welfare assistance to pay for their food. When Abdullahi asked Johnson if he insulted them because they were Black, the man said yes.
Moments later a verbal altercation broke out between the teens and Johnson who placed his hands inside of his pockets and threatened for “everybody to back up.” Abdullahi said she saw Johnson flashing a black handgun.
The incident ended without any shots fired or injuries sustained, and Abdullahi said she was frightened.
“Someone could easily have died,” the teen said during an interview on Wednesday. “Anybody could easily have died.”
The owner and operator of the Eden Prairie McDonald’s franchise location, Paul Ostergaard, stated, “Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our customers and employees,” and said restaurant officials are taking the matter seriously.
Joyce Lorenz, a spokeswoman for the city of Eden Prairie, released a statement on Thursday saying the Hennepin County Attorney’s office would decide whether to file any charges against Johnson. As of Wednesday, he was being held at the at the Hennepin County Adult Detention Center.
Jaylani Hussein, executive director of Council on American-Islamic Relations of Minnesota, said Wednesday in a statement, “We welcome the arrest of a suspect in this disturbing incident and look forward to appropriate charges being brought by state and federal law enforcement agencies. … We thank Eden Prairie police for their swift and professional investigating leading to this arrest.”