A raucous brawl that was captured on cellphone video between a security guard and two homeless men inside a McDonald’s restaurant in Santa Monica early Wednesday started with a simple request: Buy some food or leave, according to police.
The security guard gave the homeless men the choice after waking them from their slumber about 4:30 a.m. inside the restaurant on 2nd Street, said Lt. Saul Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Santa Monica Police Department.
When the men and the guard could not find an agreeable option, the melee began.
The security guard used pepper spray on one of the men, whom police later identified as Ronald Graham, 32, and “everything just escalated from there,” said Trent Williamson who recorded the ordeal on his cellphone.
Williamson’s video shows the guard grappling with the men as a customer tries to help. After they break free, the guard aims his pepper spray at the men. Then Graham appears to square off with the guard, and they exchange punches.
As the guard and Graham continue to wrestle, they tumble outside through a set of double doors and into a carport. At the same time, a second restaurant patron is shown picking up a metal chair and striking Graham at least three times.
Williamson said a third customer also picked up a chair and was preparing to attack the second patron who had assisted the guard.
The sequence of events was unclear because Williamson’s video was edited.
At one point during the brawl, the guard and Graham appeared to be fighting over control of his baton.
With the assistance of the first customer and a fourth patron, the guard eventually was able to break free from Graham and his baton was returned.
“It was hardcore,” said Williamson, a Santa Monica resident.
Graham quickly walked out of the restaurant, where police were waiting.
Officers arrested Graham on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon — the baton — and violating parole, said Rodriguez, the police spokesman.
The guard suffered cuts and bruises but declined medical treatment, the lieutenant said.
Detectives are investigating the attack and will be looking for additional witnesses and suspects, Rodriguez said.
Meanwhile, officers are conducting additional patrols of the neighborhood.