A Charleston, South Carolina steakhouse is receiving both praise and criticism after an armed employee fired shots into the air Saturday night as rioters assaulted a customer standing outside. Hall’s Chop House, located on King Street in the city’s historic downtown, was right in the thick of the riots and looting that began late Saturday afternoon, and by the time the sun had set, windows had been broken and fires were raging nearby.
Jim Stuckey, a former NFL player who was at the restaurant, was apparently jawing with some of the protesters when the situation escalated into violence.
As crowds began to form, an employee with the restaurant stepped outside, pointed a firearm and told protesters to back away from the establishment, an eyewitness who filmed the incident told the newspaper. Some members of the crowd began throwing things at the steakhouse after being shown the weapon.
Stuckey was already present in front of the restaurant with a golf club and was getting into a verbal altercation with some of the protesters. A Post and Courier reporter on the scene photographed and witnessed the former athlete holding the iron and a cigar while interacting with the crowd.
An eyewitness that filmed the interactions said Stuckey was then attacked by several people after shouting at the crowd and was knocked to the ground. Around 9:56 p.m., the Halls’ employee then came back outside and fired at least four shots into the air according to videos shared with the newspaper and heard by a reporter on scene.
“Shots were fired during the height of the violence outside of our restaurant around the time a window at Halls was being broken,” a statement from the restaurant said. “In an effort to protect customers and staff, a Halls’ team member drew his licensed concealed firearm and discharged it into the air while other members of the Halls team brought an injured guest inside the restaurant.”
Just a reminder that warning shots aren’t a great idea, both from a legal perspective and as a practical matter. What goes up must come down, and those rounds fired into the air could have ended up hurting someone who posed no threat to customers or staff. Still, it doesn’t sound like any store employee is facing charges at the moment.
The restaurant added that “no one was injured by the gunfire, but a Halls’ guest was injured in front of the restaurant.” The steakhouse said in a statement that they are cooperating with authorities and will conduct an internal investigation.
Additionally, the restaurant said that certain staff members are trained and licensed to carry concealed weapons.
Windows were broken and some damage happened from an object being thrown through the glass, the restaurant confirmed. There was no looting on the premises.
“I hope the employee that was standing out of your door and shooting into street becomes a clear indication to the rest of Charleston about the way your restaurant disregards life,” one account wrote.
Another commenter said, “Thankfully your employee was armed and took action. I hope he is recognized and not reprimanded!”
Based on the statement by the restaurant owner that several staffers are concealed carry holders, I doubt the employee is going to be reprimanded. Meanwhile, Stuckey says he’s not pressing charges against any of the individuals who assaulted him, though Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds says there were ten arrests made in the downtown area on Saturday night. Hall’s Chop House was closed on Sunday as the city imposed a curfew that ran from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. Monday.