Three men who allegedly shot up a strip club after being kicked out for failing to comply with COVID-19 protocols have been arrested and charged with several counts of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Two of them face life in prison.
In the early morning hours of Halloween, three friends visiting the Sahara Theatre, a strip club in Anaheim, were kicked out of the location after they refused to wear a face covering. Then, instead of adhering to COVID-19 protocols so they could return, Edgar Nava-Ayala, 34, and Daniel Juvenal Ocampo, 22, and Juan Jose Acosta-Soto allegedly returned with AK-47 assault rifles.
Nava-Ayala allegedly fired 15 rounds at the strip club from a vehicle, hitting a customer, two employees, and wounding a fourth, unidentified person who refused medical attention according to the Anaheim Police Department. The trio then fled the scene via a nearby freeway.
While all the victims survived, one suffered a shattered left shoulder blade and another had to undergo surgery, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
“The club was full of more than 30 people, patrons and employees,” Anaheim Police Department Sgt. Shane Carringer told VICE News. “The fact that nobody was killed is in itself a miracle.”
Carringer said that, according to fellow patrons, the men were drunk and rowdy throughout the night, and likely would have been given the boot regardless of the club’s mask policy.
After a nearly two-month-long investigation, the three men were arrested away from their homes at different locations last Thursday Carringer said. Nava-Ayala and Ocampo have since been charged with three counts of attempted murder, three counts of deadly assault with a weapon, and one count of shooting into an occupied building.
Nava-Ayala is facing 82 years to life in state prison while Ocampo faces 21 years to life, according to the District Attorneys’ office.
Acosta-Soto was charged with three felony counts of assault with an assault weapon and one felony count of shooting into an occupied building. He faces a maximum of 17 years and four months in prison.
While the Anaheim shooting was one of the most severe instances of violent responses to COVID-19 restrictions, it’s far from the only one. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been numerous instances of contentious encounters between workers, and customers who refuse to follow safety measures meant to reduce the spread of the virus. Some have even turned deadly.
In August, three women assaulted a 17-year-old hostess at a Baton Rouge Chili after she tried to break up their party of 11 between two tables. In May, three people in Flint, Michigan were arrested and charged with killing a Family Dollar security guard after he asked the group to put on face masks, as was the state’s mandate at the time, before entering the store. That same month, a woman in Oklahoma City shot three McDonald’s employees after they told her the restaurant’s dining area was closed. All three workers survived their injuries.