EXCLUSIVE: Starbread Pittsburg employees attacked by customer over COVID rules

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Saturday, July 23, 2022
EXCLUSIVE: Starbread Pittsburg employees attacked by customer
Starbread bakery in Pittsburg, California is dealing with the aftermath of being attacked by a customer who would not adhere to COVID protocols.

PITTSBURG, Calif. (KGO) -- A beloved bakery in the East Bay is dealing with the aftermath of being attacked by a customer who allegedly did not adhere to COVID protocols.

All day long, a steady stream of customers pours into the Starbread bakery, located in a strip mall along Harbor Street in Pittsburg, California. Along with the empanadas and lumpia, the star of the show is most certainly its Seniorita bread.

One man and his daughter walked in to order a box of 55.

Thousands of these buttery, sweet crowd favorites are sold each day from this family-owned location.

"Seeing the community happy and excited purchasing our bread is exciting," said Jesse Sanchez, manager of the location.

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That excitement, though, was shattered with the very last customer Monday evening as the shop was preparing to close.

"When I saw the video, I was shocked," Sanchez said.

That surveillance video shows a man, clad in a shirt that reads "ARMY" approaching the register. He was known to employees after previously ignoring COVID protocols during the holidays.

"We asked him to keep his social distancing from another customer who was in here," said Sanchez's wife, Cyrelle Sanchez, who also works at the location.

She explained how the man had come in and stood exceptionally close to another customer. He was asked to leave and not come back.

In another strange twist, employees said the man on Monday night told them that the previous offender wasn't him -- it was his twin. He was even offered a refund by staff, but it wasn't enough.

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"He kept pointing to his shirt which said US Army and he said he needed respect," Cyrelle said.

That's when things escalated. The man started throwing hand sanitizer, the cash register terminal and even hurled the donut display.

"They tried to close the lock on the door and that's when he came back."

The man can be seen in the video used in the police investigation, punching the employee's face and eye and even shutting the door on his arm. Jesse recalls the turn of events clearly.

"All I saw was anger and rage," he said.

The shop's 53-year-old owner, who requested we not use her name or show her face, was also punched. She broke a pinky bone and her whole arm is now in cast, one she says her doctors believe she will be wearing for at least a month, if not longer.

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The owner is also forcing herself to return to work despite the physical and mental pain because of an employee shortage.

"It's terrible. It's traumatic. Every time I remember the guy, I'm having chest pains," she said, while trying to work the now broken register.

Starbread is now considering installing a take-out window to keep employees safe, whatever it takes to stay open and show appreciation for the community that has supported them through it all.

"Even during COVID, the community of Pittsburg, Oakley, is insane. It's amazing," Jesse said.

Pittsburg police told ABC7 News that the investigation is ongoing and they're working to identify the man caught on camera.

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