Large crowd at Monterrey Mexican Bar and Grill prompts police investigation
MISHAWAKA, Ind. - An apparent large gathering at Monterrey Mexican Bar and Grill dispersed when police were called to the scene in Mishawaka, Friday night. Witnesses said it was a large party, but the restaurant said the group tried to "take over" the restaurant. Community members said they were stunned and confused by the developments. Witnesses said they feared the worst as they saw the incident unfold.
"At first, we thought it was an active shooter situation because on other news platforms, you see people running," said Joel Drinsky who, along with his roommate, Patrick Justice, witnessed the incident. "That's what we thought, at first. It wasn't that after the fact was done. We ended up giving some people rides home, but it happened so quick, we couldn't really control how many people got in the car."
Drinsky and Justice thought the people they saw running away were fleeing an active shooter. As a result, they offered people rides home.
"I asked them," Justice said. "I said, 'If you guys need a ride, just get in. I'll take you wherever you need to go.' I had three nice young gentlemen get in my car. They said, 'We need to go to the library.' I asked what happened, and they said, 'There was just a party at this bar, and police showed up, and they all scattered. One kid ran through the kitchen' which I did see in the statement, there was some damage to the kitchen."
That statement came from Monterrey Mexican Bar and Grill Saturday morning on Facebook. It said the following.
Last night, February 19, 2021, there was an incident that took place at Monterrey Mexican Bar & Grill. Within the hour of our closing time, the restaurant received a huge influx of customers through the door that quickly turned into a "mob" like take-over of our restaurant; creating an impossible circumstance for our staff despite their continuous best efforts to control the situation. The police were called and when arriving on the scene individuals were recorded jumping off of our roof and running through our parking lot. This may be due to the fact they these individuals, whom we have on camera, had invaded our restaurant moving through our kitchen, storage areas, and more. While there was no criminal activity observed by the police officers and no reports filed we take this situation very seriously and are currently reviewing internal videos of the timeline of what took place. Our restaurant has experienced serious damage due to these "mob" like events in the past weeks. This has pushed us to continue to put protocols in place to try and control these serious "mob" like waves of traffic coming into our restaurant while still adhering to all social distancing guidelines. We want to be clear that there was no event in our upstairs event space or restaurant planned party. The events that took place last night were not of Monterrey, but of individuals who overtook our restaurant facility. We have zero-tolerance for this type of behavior on our property. We take serious pride in ensuring a safe work environment for our employees and dining experience for our customers. We will be reviewing internal video and our current protocols to ensure we prevent a "mob" like presence from overrunning our restaurant again.
We thank you for your support during this time and are committed to the safety of both our customers and our staff.
Owner, Monterrey Mexican Bar & Grill
Justice and Drinsky ended up taking about ten people home Friday night. They were complete strangers which has left them uneasy about the future.
"I feel a little bit unsafe with COVID going around," Drinsky said. "Given that I had a whole bunch of strangers in the car with us, it is a little unsettling."
"You would think during a pandemic, people would be a little more smart and wear their masks, but none of them had masks on," Justice said. "Not one in my car had a mask on. They were coughing and sneezing. It was just ridiculous."
Justice and Drinsky said they have been "going overboard" in sanitizing their car after Friday night. The Mishawaka Police Department said it is working with excise police to investigate allegations of underage drinking. The St. Joseph County Health Department said it is gathering information to review compliance with COVID safety protocols.