AUSTIN (KXAN) — An altercation over wearing masks involving a customer at Fresh Plus grocery store in central Austin ended with vandalism, according to an employee of the store and an arrest affidavit from the Austin Police Department.
According to APD, officers responded to the grocery store located in the 400 block of East 43rd Street after reports of mischief/vandalism around 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
An employee at the scene told KXAN the incident occurred after the suspect was involved in an altercation over masks.
The affidavit says a man, later identified as Wayne Bevan Ayres, 31, walked into the store and objected to wearing a face mask inside. After Ayres argued with the staff, police were told Ayres grabbed a couple of cases of Topo Chico and used the glass bottles to damage seven, large glass panels and the glass front doors of the store.
Two of the panels and the glass front doors were completely shattered, the affidavit says.
“It was intense, it was intense, it was really intense,” said employee Oat Williams.
“He just freaked out and started throwing stuff, it was crazy,” Williams said.
“For someone to get upset and destroy the property seems like a very unreasonable response at this time,” customer David Reynolds said.
“There was just a lot of screaming and stuff… just so much damage,” Williams recounted.
After throwing the bottles, the suspect left the store, heading in an unknown location, police say.
Police reviewed video of the incident and were able to match the description of the man to witness accounts, the affidavit says. Around 2:06 p.m. Wednesday, police found Ayres, who matched the descriptions from the video and witnesses, about a mile away from the store.
Ayres refused to speak about the incident. Police arrested him and he faces a criminal mischief charge. As of Thursday afternoon, Ayres is in custody at Travis County jail.
A quote given to police by the Fresh Plus owner estimated the glass damage will cost around $15,000. An additional $2,000 worth of produce near the store windows was considered damaged due to the shattered glass, the affidavit says.
Customers say the incident took them by surprise. Reynolds says the area is usually friendly.
“The neighborhood is pretty tight. The folks that shop here at the grocery store, over here Quacks and Julio’s — we’re all mostly regulars. We know everybody pretty well,” Reynolds said.
Williams is grateful no one got hurt.
“Come support us, we’re gonna need it,” he said.