Now, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the incident and could be prosecuting criminal charges.
In a statement to CNN, Vons claimed that the employees had asked the customer to remove the hood, but the customer ignored the requests until they arrived in the payment area.
“This has been a disturbing incident for our employees and customers and we are investigating with our team how best to handle such inappropriate situations in the future,” Vons said in the statement.
It is not clear whether the customer was allowed to check out with the shopping or possibly remove the hood.
The Santee Vons where the accident occurred did not respond to CNN’s repeated requests for comment.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said deputies had not been called to the store at the time of the accident. But detectives are “looking into the matter” now and will prosecute criminal charges if necessary, the department said in a statement.
Customers were afraid to approach
Customer Alisa Wentzel told CNN that she identified the buyer, whom she believes to be a man, as soon as she entered the store. He was waiting in line at the counter, he said, putting on his hood.
At first he didn’t believe what he was seeing, he told CNN.
Wentzel moved through the corridors to escape photos and keep her at a distance.
“Management should do something, but I haven’t seen anyone talk to him,” he said. “He was alone in line.”
When he was done shopping in the self-checkout lane about 30 minutes later, the man was standing in line waiting for a cashier, still wearing a hood, he said.
“I just remember feeling so broken, so hopeless and then really upset that this would have happened in the community where I raised my family,” he said. “I was alone in shock and disbelief. I still feel that way.”
Santee’s reputation for racial intolerance
The city condemned the latter instance of racial intolerance.
“Many thanks to all who have come forward to reduce this sad reminder of intolerance,” said Santee Mayor John Minto in a statement on behalf of the Santee City Council. “Santee and her citizens are fantastic, and the actions of this particular individual are not representative of us as a wonderful people and city.”
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