Eight employees of a Trader Joe's in New York City were reportedly injured in a confrontation with two men who refused to wear masks. Employees had asked the men to leave the Manhattan store on East 32nd Street around 8:50pm on July 14 as they weren't following the mask requirement, a rep says, per NBC News. Police say John Carrero and Alejandro Escobar, both 34, refused before pulling a mask off an employee. Carrero then hit a 22-year-old female worker in the head with a wooden paddle used by cashiers to signal a checkout is open, according to police. That employee started bleeding from the head and was taken to a hospital, per Vice, which reports another employee had their hair pulled. Meanwhile, Escobar vowed to return with a firearm, left the store, and allegedly hit a window with a chair in an attempt to get back inside, police say.
Trader Joe's rep Kenya Friend-Daniel says eight employees in "all suffered some sort of injury," though all are now fine and back at work. She adds the mask issue isn't thought to have triggered the conflict. "We feel there was a different motivation behind it, such as wanting to start some trouble." Reached Tuesday by NBC, Escobar claimed the dispute started when an employee "put hands" on Carrero, who "snapped." Escobar said he was wearing a mask while filming footage for his YouTube channel and denied hitting the window with a chair. Both men were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, harassment, and criminal trespassing. Escobar is additionally charged with menacing, while Carrero is charged with second-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon. They were released from custody and are due in court on Oct. 13. (Read more Trader Joe's stories.)