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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Employees at McDonald’s in Leesburg jailed after brawling behind counter

Two McDonald’s employees from Leesburg were arrested Monday morning after a brawl that resulted in another co-worker getting hit by an errant pot of hot coffee.

Venice Cecelia Hughes, 27, of 33334 Shawn Drive, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill and battery (second or subsequent offense). Jasmine Tynise Gainey, 18, of 2000 Park Circle, was charged with simple battery and battery causing bodily harm.

Venice Cecelia Hughes and Jasmine Tynise Gainey
Venice Cecelia Hughes and Jasmine Tynise Gainey

The fight happened at around 10 a.m. at the McDonald’s at 1012 N. 14th St. Leesburg police officers responded to the restaurant and separated the two women. Neither would cooperate with the investigation and continued to try to fight, so they were handcuffed and placed in separate patrol cars, according to the police report.

Hughes told an officer she was upset with Gainey for “messing with her.” She said she asked Gainey to stop and when she didn’t, she struck her. Hughes said the issues between her and Gainey are ongoing. Gainey refused to cooperate with the officer and kept trying to argue with Hughes, so her interview was terminated, the report said.

The victim told the deputy she was working at the restaurant when she saw Gainey make “slick” comments to Hughes. She said Hughes was upset by the comments and struck Gainey. The victim said Gainey responded by hitting Hughes with her fists and then grabbed a coffee pot filled with hot coffee and threw it towards her. The coffee pot missed Hughes and struck the victim instead, shattering and covering the victim’s leg with hot coffee, according to the report.

The victim said she was injured and requested emergency medical services. Although no injury was visible, her pants were wet. The victim said she was so afraid of being further injured that she jumped out the drive-through window to escape, the report said.

The officer reviewed video of the incident, which showed Gainey assisting a customer near the cash registers when she was approached by Hughes, who appeared to be yelling at Gainey before being ushered away by another staff member. In the video, Hughes took several steps away at first, but she quickly ran around the co-worker and chased Gainey. Hughes grabbed Gainey, threw her to the ground and punched her several times. Several staff members came to Gainey’s aid and tried to pull Hughes away, but Hughes started kicking Gainey, according to the report.

The video showed once the women were separated, Gainey bypassed an exit and tried to re-engage with Hughes. A co-worker grabbed her by the jacket and led her out of the employee area to the main store. Gainey then removed her jacket shoved past another employee to get back at Hughes, who at that point appeared to be calming. Gainey was able to get away from her co-worker, grab a coffee pot and throw it into a crowd of employees that included Hughes. When it missed, Gainey grabbed a second pot, this one full of coffee, and threw it into the same crowd. The pot appeared to break and the victim jumped out the drive-through window, the report said.

On the video, Gainey then struck Hughes with her fists and fled on foot towards the exit. Hughes picked up a broomstick and chased Gainey with it as if she was going to hit her. Hughes was escorted from the building, while Gainey was held inside by co-workers until police arrived, according to the report.

After reviewing the video, the officer tried again to speak with Gainey, who by this time had calmed down. Gainey told the officer the incident started when she asked Hughes to make her sandwiches and was upset that Hughes wasn’t doing it. She said Hughes was angered by her remarks and punched her several times. Gainey said Hughes kicked her multiple times in the head while she was being pulled away, the report said.

After being read her Miranda warning, Gainey said she pursued Hughes after the battery, even though she could have walked away, because she hadn’t had a chance to strike her and she couldn’t let her get away with battering her. Gainey was apologetic once she found out the victim had been struck by the coffee pot that she threw. Gainey also admitted she shouldn’t have made the comments that provoked the altercation, according to the report.

Both Hughes and Gainey wanted to press charges against each other. They were placed under arrest and lodged in the Lake County Jail. Gainey was released later Monday on $2,000 bond, while Hughes was released the next day on $4,000 bond. Both will appear in Lake County Court on May 25.

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