2008-04-18 / Front Page

Rite-Aid Melee Leads To Injuries

By Howard Schwach

At least three Rockaway residents were injured on Monday when a melee ensued in the parking lot of the new Rite Aid Pharmacy on Rockaway Beach Boulevard at Beach 108 Street.

Michelle McMahon says that she got the bruise on her face when she was punched by the manager of the new Rite- Aid facility in Rockaway Park.
According to some of the local residents involved in the altercation, it began with a "stare-down" between an unidentified young man who had gone to the store to buy an item, and a security guard who believed that he had taken an item from the shelf and put it in his pocket.

When the security guard searched the man's pockets, he reportedly found nothing, and the man turned to leave the building.

The man's father who asked he be identified as Andy, was home at the time of the altercation. He spoke on his teenage son's behalf who said that the security guard yelled after his son, "I'll be off work at four. Meet me in the parking lot."

When the man got to his car, he found that the battery was dead. He called his mother, who drove over with jumper cables.

While Andy's wife and his son were trying to start the car, however, Andy said, a large group of employees, some carrying hammers and at least one, a cricket bat, came out of the store and surrounded the car.

Andy says he was at home on the cell phone with his wife, trying to figure out what was wrong with the car when the workers came out.

"All I heard over the phone was my wife saying, 'What are you doing? Leave my son alone,' and then my wife started screaming and the phone went dead," Andy told The Wave.

Andy ran the few blocks from his home to the pharmacy in his stockinged feet and found the Rite Aid employees pulling his son from the car and beating him.

He tried to intercede, but says he was hit in the head with a "metal object" and went down.

That's when the cops arrived and the fight ended.

Before it did, however, another local was injured, reportedly by the store's manager, a man named Mike.

Michelle McMahon told The Wave that she was shopping in the pharmacy on Monday and had paid for her purchases. She was on the way out of the store, she says, when the store manager, whom she identified only as Mike, pushed her from behind in his attempt to get to the fight in the parking lot.

"I saw the fight, and then I was pushed from behind. Some of the employees, including Mike, were trying to get to the fight. I started to get up and he punched me in the face. Then the others jumped on me, hitting me again."

McMahon said that she approached Mike and asked why he had punched her.

"Nobody punched you, you bitch," she claimed that he responded.

According to the woman, she then ran home.

I was glad to get out of there with my life," she said. "Everybody was fighting, everybody was hitting everybody else."

McMahon's face was badly bruised in the incident, as were her side and her knee.

McMahon and her husband went to the 100 Precinct and filed a police report.

Police sources told The Wave on Tuesday that if a charge were to be brought, it most likely would be assault in the third degree, but that detectives were still trying to sort out the details and decide on whether there would be any arrests arising from the incident.

An assault three charge routinely comes with a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) that requires the person who committed the offense to show up for court on a specific date.

Andy said that police at the scene initially arrested him for defending his son, because one of the employees accused him of hitting her.

Those charges, however, were soon dropped and he was released.

A Wave staffer went to Rite Aid on Tuesday, but employees declined to point out the manager or to speak about the incident.

Ashley Flower, a corporate spokesperson for the pharmacy giant stationed in Pennsylvania, said that the corporation had conducted its own investigation, including sending a representative to the 100 Precinct, after receiving a call from The Wave and that their investigation revealed that no charges would be brought against any person because of the incident.

"No charges have been filed, or will be filed against anybody on either side [of the story]," she said. "My information is very different from what you have been told, but I don't want to point fingers. There is a lot of conflicting details. We take this very seriously because we want a safe environment for both our customers and our associates."

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