A former US Marine who was assaulted at a McDonald’s in downtown Washington, D.C., last Friday says the attack was racially motivated, but questions persist about motivations for the assault, local police said this week.
Christopher Marquez, who served in Iraq and received a Bronze Star for valor and now attends American University, told The Washington Post that the attack, which he said was unprovoked, occurred after several black teenagers and young men asked him whether “black lives matter” and then called him racist.
According to a D.C. police report, Mr. Marquez, who is Hispanic, told officers that one young man hit him in the face with a handgun and stole bank cards and his wallet, which had $400 inside, the Post reports. Dustin Sternbeck, the chief D.C. police spokesman told the Post that detectives were reviewing surveillance video of the incident but it wasn’t immediately clear what it showed.
A report of the incident in the conservative website the Daily Caller based primarily on Marquez’s account of the assault led to several reports that concluded that the men involved in the assault were affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement.
But D.C. police told the Post and the fact-checking website Snopes they could not verify the identities of the men or the motive described by Marquez. One officer told Snopes that there was no indication that any of the individuals in the altercation were involved with or mentioned Black Lives Matter.
Snopes also noted that Marquez had told the Daily Caller his memory of the incident was fuzzy after sustaining a blow to the back of the head and that he said some details of the incident were provided to him the next day by a manager of the McDonald’s who had reviewed security camera footage of the altercation.
Over the weekend, the Daily Caller reported that DeAnthony Mason, a manager of the McDonald’s told Marquez in a phone call the day following the altercation “that when [Marquez] left the restaurant a teen with a white shirt struck him on the side of the head, knocking him unconscious.”
Snopes and the Post reported they were unable to reach the restaurant manager for comment, though another restaurant manager told the fact-checking site the manager “might” call back.
One officer told Snopes that records indicated that Marquez was robbed, but that there were no details available about the conversation between Marquez and the men, which, according to Marquez, led one man to call him a “racist.”
The site also noted that it was unable to confirm reports that Marquez’s credit cards were later used at a Five Guys or a Walmart, as well as how the men – who were described as teenagers – were able to use the cards at a liquor store.
Marquez, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in California in 2014, according to the Post, told the newspaper he had stopped at the McDonald’s after coming from a book signing. He said he was eating in a back corner of the restaurant when a group of teens and young men approached him.
“They saw me and crowded around my table, and they started asking me if I believed black lives matter,” Marquez told the Post. “I was ignoring them, then they started calling me racist.” He said they were trying to intimidate him, but his memory then grew fuzzy after he was hit in the back of the head with what he believes was a pistol.
He then flagged a cab and returned to his apartment complex, where a worker at the front desk called the police, the Post reports. He was treated at George Washington University Hospital, for what the Daily Caller reported over the weekend as head trauma.
D.C. police said they are continuing to look into the case.
“It’s an active investigation, and in this case, as in any other, we’re going to investigate it to the fullest,” Mr. Sternbeck, the DC police spokesman, told the Post.