ST. GEORGE — The St. George Police Department was called to an early-morning brawl at a local Denny’s on Saturday morning.
Officers responded to the Denny’s on 155 N. 1000 East in St. George after receiving reports of a large group of people fighting, including some Denny’s employees, just after 3 a.m. Saturday, Officer Tiffany Atkin said.
All on-duty officers and a Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputy were dispatched to the location where 15-20 patrons and employees were involved in a mass brawl. When law enforcement arrived, there were people fighting inside and some diners preparing to leave, which was when officers made contact.
“The majority of them (patrons) were either actively fighting or trying to break up the fighting,” Atkin said. “Most of them were somehow involved in the incident.”
St. George Police officers detained and interviewed a number of the people involved. Officers arrested 31-year-old Jacob Raymond Garisau of Washington City and 36-year-old Misikopa Asaasa of St. George for a number of charges, including a third-degree felony charge of inciting a riot.
Atkin told St. George News the reason behind the brawl began after a group of individuals felt a few patrons looked at them the wrong way.
“The fight started over one group’s displeasure that other people in the restaurant looked in their direction,” she said.
Through video surveillance, police were able to observe Asaasa and Garisau seated together at a table before Asaasa got up from the table and started advancing toward the victim. Asaasa punched the victim several times in the head before the Denny’s manager and other employees attempted to stop the fight.
One employee placed herself in between Asaasa and the victim, getting hit on the left side of her face in the process. The initial victim was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, and no serious injuries were reported.
When Asaasa began to exit the building, Garisau joined him, but police observed him walk back into the restaurant and yell at a table full of people in the surveillance footage.
Garisau continued to make threats that he was going to beat them up as police entered the building and stopped the altercation. After police arrived, the manager and other employees informed police that they had asked Asaasa to leave multiple times, but he refused.
Both men were arrested and booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility on multiple charges. Garisau faces two class B misdemeanor charges of trespassing and threat of violence as well as a class C misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct and a third-degree felony count of inciting a riot. Asaasa faces those and additional charges for two counts of simple assault, a class B misdemeanor.
Officers did not find the men to be under the influence of any drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident.
In instances like this, Atkin said, it is up to the individual to decide how they want to react to the situation. In this case, some of the patrons felt confident and able enough to involve themselves in an attempt to de-escalate the situation.
“As always, we appreciate when people want to stand up and help others that are at a disadvantage, but we’re never going to ask that of someone just because it’s a liability for someone to get involved if they choose to do so,” she said.
In some cases, individuals may not have felt safe or willing to involve themselves, and in those cases, it is best for them to remove themselves from the situation.
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