MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A video of a chaotic scene involving hundreds of kids that left employees ducking for cover at a Putt-Putt Fun Center in Memphis is making national headlines.
Now the father of the 12-year-old girl caught on video says there’s more to the story than what people have seen on social media.
The owners say the center has been open more than 50 years, and they’ve never had a night like this, as crowds grew to more than 300 Saturday night, according to the manager.
“I don’t really have an answer as to why we had the influx of kids that we did on Saturday,” general manager Aaron Bos said. “Everything happened within the span of 10 minutes.”
According to a police report, there was a “verbal confrontation” between several people that had to be broken up by security and staff members around 7 p.m.
The general manager says while the building was never at more than 50% capacity inside due to COVID-19, he was forced to close because they could no longer control outdoor crowds jumping lines and causing a disturbance.
The company said they were about to start issuing refunds when a group “started screaming and yelling about their refund. To protect the staff and other guest, it was announced no refunds at this time.”
“I was at the door when I was approached by those young ladies who started cursing at me and said, ‘I want my money, I want my money!’” Bos said.
In the video, a girl can be seen tearing apart a plexiglass divider. She then throws the divider along with metal rope stands across a counter, where employees are standing.
The employees dodge every item coming at them. Moments later, the young girl was seen spitting at another worker.
But the father of the girl at the center of it says the video doesn’t tell the full story.
“It started somewhere,” Jerald Jones said. “It didn’t just all of a sudden go to, ‘I’m going to go up there and disrespect these folks.’ My kids don’t get down like that.”
Jones said he dropped his daughter off to meet with friends but stayed nearby. About an hour later he says he received a frantic call from her that she was told to leave.
The girl’s father says the money wasn’t the only issue. He claims an employee escalated the situation.
“The other guy saying, ‘Get out, get out’ spit on her out his mouth. That’s when she spit back, which is what everybody else seen. They didn’t see the part where he spit,” Jones said.
Bos said the only people put in harm’s way were his employees.
“I’m trying to restore order and ensure the safety of my staff which was my only concern at that time,” he said.
While no one was physically hurt and the damage was minimal, Jones says that hasn’t been the case for his daughter.
“Kids everywhere are talking about they want to fight her and meet up with her,” Jones said.
As a result of this, there are several new policies at the Putt-Putt.
All minors must have a parent or guardian with them, there will now be additional security and they will be open limited hours now.
Monday night, Memphis police said, two girls ages 12 and 15 were identified and located. Both were issued juvenile summons for aggravated riot, simple assault, and vandalism under $1,000.
Jones confirmed that one of those girls was his daughter.