Pittsburgh police recommended assault charges against the owners and an employee of a northside Exxon gas station after a video of a “particularly disturbing” fight went viral, police said.
The confrontation began when two women reported to the station personnel that a gas pump had malfunctioned, spilling gas. The customers demanded a refund, but the station owners denied the request. The verbal disagreement turned violent and spilled outside the store.
A video captured by a bystander that subsequently went viral shows several men attacking the women. One man repeatedly hits a woman on the back of the head. Another grabs one of the women by the hair and drags her across the pavement. Men hold the women down while others hit them.
Police said that although the station’s surveillance cameras showed that one of the women “initiated the confrontation inside the store,” the bystander’s footage showed “the assault on these women is particularly disturbing as multiple men held down the women while punching them repeatedly.” Police said they would amend their paperwork should the Allegheny County District Attorney recommend aggravated assault charges.
On Saturday, protesters surrounded the gas station, shutting it down and blocking a lane of traffic in the area, according to KDKA. Protesters were also present at another Exxon station. ExxonMobil told the television station that all retail stations in the United States are owned by independent owner/operators but that it takes “these matters very seriously.”
The two women, 25- and 27-year-old sisters, also spoke with KDKA, declining to be identified.
“There’s no way that you should be able to put your hands on females like this and still be able to run a business. Especially in our community where I grew up,” the 27-year-old woman said.
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[Featured image: Exxon gas station in northside Pittsburgh/Google Maps]