No fast-food chain is more recognizable than McDonald’s. The golden arches of this burger joint can be found everywhere in the world—from Alaska to Singapore. As ubiquitous as its restaurants are, McDonald’s has had its fair share of bad press in the past.
Morgan Spurlock’s documentary Super Size Me highlighted in graphic detail just how unhealthy the food at McDonald’s is. Numerous doctors and scientists have also published reports about the damage that a simple burger and fries can do to the human stomach, heart, and other organs.
As it is often open very late, McDonald’s has been the scene of several bizarre and horrific crimes. This list shows in 10 different cases just how dangerous fast food can be.
10 The Attack Of The Tire Iron Gang
In November 2007, a McDonald’s in Memphis, Tennessee, became the site of a grotesque turf war. On one side of the battle were the restaurant’s employees. On the other side were some seriously angry drag queens.
The entire incident started when the three drag queens pulled up at the drive-through window. For some reason, the three-man party felt that the service was subpar. They tapped on the drive-through window angrily to get the manager’s attention. When that failed, they entered the store, each brandishing a tire iron.
The cross-dressing assailants struck the manager, Albert Bolton, with a tire iron. He was also scratched and kicked by the attackers. The blow that sent Bolton to the hospital came when one of the drag queens hit him in the head with a “Caution: Wet Floor” sign. The last act of violence saw the three assailants smash the drive-through window to pieces.
The three angry drag queens were eventually caught by Memphis police. Their names were Danny Mitchell, Lynn Gillespie, and Dacorian Greer. All three were charged with aggravated assault.
9 The Murder Of Mohammad Robinson
A simple argument at a McDonald’s in North Las Vegas led to the death of a 31-year-old father. In summer 2016, a woman accused 31-year-old Mohammad Robinson of not acting like a gentleman. Robinson apparently failed to hold the door open for the woman, which caused the door to hit the woman in the face.
According to an eyewitness at the scene, Robinson and the woman got into a heated argument. The woman told her male companion about Robinson’s supposedly rude act. The companion pulled out a gun and shot Robinson to death.
Gunman Alonso Perez was arrested for the murder and placed in an interrogation room. He managed to free himself from his handcuffs and quickly fled the scene. Perez then stole a Ford F-250 truck. Police caught up with him several days later and charged him with murder.
Perez, 25, was later charged with two other homicides—the shooting deaths of 50-year-old Jeffrey Johnson and 37-year-old Candelario Duran.
8 Pregnant Woman Attacked
Sadly, brawls and fisticuffs are fairly common inside McDonald’s restaurants. One such brawl erupted in Houston, Texas, in October 2017. The fight started when customer Carla DeLeon began calling an employee names.
As shown in a video uploaded to the Internet by Dexter Kennedy, the employee fought back against DeLeon by pouring a cup of water on her head. At the time of the incident, DeLeon was with her young daughter and was pregnant with her fifth child.
The two women traded fists until a male employee separated them. According to Kennedy’s post, he felt that DeLeon started the scuffle. However, DeLeon pressed charges against the McDonald’s employee for hitting her and her three-year-old daughter. The employee was eventually charged with assault.
7 Gang Beatdown In Brooklyn
As they are open so late, McDonald’s restaurants tend to attract the drunk, the rough, and the rowdy after the sun goes down. In March 2015, a cell phone video caught a gang of hooligans in Brooklyn, New York, severely beating a young woman.
In the video, which was uploaded to YouTube, the fight started when two teenage girls began trading insults. Friends of one of the 16-year-olds then punched and kicked the other girl until she wound up on the ground.
The violence did not end once the teenager dropped to the floor. The young assailants kicked and stomped the young girl in the head. Most disgusting of all, absolutely no one came to the injured teenager’s defense.
More than two years later, Aniah Ferguson was sentenced to four years in prison for leading the gang assault.
6 Shooting In Dorchester
In April 2017, a road rage incident in the Boston area led to police issuing murder charges against 29-year-old Deonarine Ganga. Boston police officials reported that Ganga pulled out a gun and fatally shot 21-year-old Joey DeBarros to death in the parking lot of a McDonald’s located in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston.
The incident first began on Granite Avenue, where the two men engaged in a verbal squabble following a traffic dispute. During the argument, Ganga removed a handgun from inside his car and shot DeBarros, who had already exited his vehicle.
DeBarros later died at Boston Medical Center. As for Ganga, he sped away from the scene in a vehicle owned by a close female associate. Boston police officers managed to track him down thanks to eyewitnesses who provided a description of Ganga and his vehicle’s license plate number.
Ganga was quickly charged with the murder. In May 2017, he was denied bail by the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.
5 The Murder Of Anna Svidersky
Anna Svidersky was born in Russia. Before age two, Anna had lived in Russia, Kazakhstan, and California. By 2001, when she was 13, Anna’s mother had moved the family to the small city of Vancouver, Washington.
By all accounts, Anna was a very determined young woman. Besides going to school at Fort Vancouver High School, Anna worked three jobs, including one at a McDonald’s restaurant located on Andresen Road in Vancouver. Friends described Anna as physically beautiful, vivacious, and caring. Before her death in 2006, Anna, a high school senior at the time, planned on going to college.
Anna’s young life ended because of one man—28-year-old David Barton Sullivan. He already had two prior convictions for sex crimes, plus he was diagnosed as a schizophrenic. On April 20, 2006, Sullivan left his Vancouver home with the intention of “hurting” a female.
At around 8:00 PM, Sullivan entered the McDonald’s on Andresen Road. He was armed with a 15-centimeter (6 in) kitchen knife. Sullivan saw Anna cleaning tables in the dining area, and without warning, he attacked her. Sullivan stabbed Anna to death while a horrified coworker, Michael Block, looked on.
The murder of Anna Svidersky became an international story because thousands of strangers used the relatively novel social media platforms of MySpace and YouTube to mourn her and honor her memory.
4 Triple Homicide In Nova Scotia
A McDonald’s restaurant in the community of Sydney River, Nova Scotia, became infamous in 1992. This crime is still remembered as one of the worst and most shocking homicides in all of Canadian history.
The incident began when three employees—18-year-old Derek Wood, 18-year-old Darren Muise, and 23-year-old Freeman Daniel MacNeil—hatched a plan to rob the restaurant. The three young men fully expected to steal more than $200,000 from the restaurant’s locked safe. The thieves ultimately pocketed only a little over $2,000.
The crime went bad almost from the start. After midnight on May 7, 1992, the three men entered the restaurant via a back door that Wood had left open earlier in the day. The robbers carried a .22-caliber pistol, several knives, and at least one shovel handle. Muise also wore a Halloween mask during the robbery.
Four employees were still inside the store during the robbery. These four workers—20-year-old Joan “Arleen” MacNeil, 27-year-old Jimmy Fagan, 22-year-old Donna Warren, and 29-year-old Neil Burroughs Jr.—were shot and severely beaten. All but Joan MacNeil died at the scene. However, she was left paralyzed after the event and died in 2018 at age 46.
Freeman Daniel MacNeil was given 25 years with the possibly of parole, Muise received 20 years with the possibility of parole, and Wood was given a life sentence. In 2011, Muise was granted parole from prison due to good behavior.
3 Cult Murder In China
On May 28, 2014, diners at a McDonald’s in the Chinese city of Zhaoyuan, Shandong Province, were interrupted while eating by a bizarre set of self-proclaimed “missionaries.” These religious fanatics belonged to a weird cult consisting of the members of the Zhang family. One of the cult members, Zhang Fan, became infamous at her trial for openly declaring that she was God.
On the day of the murders, six members of the Zhang family entered the McDonald’s restaurant and asked for the cell phone numbers of every customer eating there. Diner Wu Shuoyan, a saleswoman in her mid-thirties, refused to give the cultists her cell phone or her cell phone number.
When this happened, gang leader Zhang Lidong told his followers to kill Wu, which they did. The murder weapons included a chair and a mop that the cult had recently purchased. Videos posted to Chinese social media showed the cult members beating Wu even after the metal mop handle had broken.
Zhang Lidong and Zhang Fan were executed in February 2015. The other four members of the cult were given sentences that ranged from just seven years all the way to life imprisonment.
2 Mass Shooting In Munich
One of the worst mass shootings in German history began at a Munich McDonald’s located near the Olympia shopping mall. The shooter, 18-year-old Ali “David” Sonboly, opened fire at the restaurant with a Glock 17 pistol near 6:00 PM on June 22, 2016. Then he moved inside the mall and continued his rampage. Over a period of a few minutes, Sonboly shot nine people to death before killing himself.
Given the spate of Islamist terrorist attacks in Europe at that time, many were quick to characterize Sonboly as an extremist and a terrorist. One female eyewitness told CNN that she heard the shooter shout “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) during the attack.
Other reports cast doubt on the theory that religion was Sonboly’s motive. Ethnic Turks seemed to have been singled out by Sonboly as well as other non-German ethnics. Some media outlets suggested that Sonboly, who was born in Germany to Iranian immigrant parents, attacked Turks because he felt that German Turks had picked on him the most in the past.
By July 2016, German police officials painted a fuller picture of Sonboly. He was a fan of first-person shooter video games, read widely about mass shootings, and had purchased the Glock handgun on the “dark web” a full year before carrying out the attack. Sonboly was also known to have some undisclosed mental health problems.
1 The San Ysidro Massacre
Without question, the worst crime ever committed inside a McDonald’s restaurant took place in San Ysidro, California. At approximately 4:00 PM on July 18, 1984, 41-year-old James Oliver Huberty stormed into a McDonald’s wearing a black T-shirt and military-style pants. His only words were “Freeze!” before he opened fire on the restaurant’s patrons.
Huberty told the diners to lie on the floor. Whether they did this or not didn’t matter. Huberty shot them anyway. The gunman—who was armed with a shotgun, an Uzi carbine, and a handgun—also shot and killed two young boys who rode their bicycles too close to the store. All told, Huberty killed 21 people during a siege that lasted over one hour. Five of the dead were younger than 11 years old, with one victim being a four-month-old infant.
The 77-minute massacre (some sources say 78) was captured by live television cameras and streamed into the homes of millions of horrified Americans, thus making it one of the first mass shooting spectacles. It was later discovered that Huberty, a native of Canton, Ohio, was a father who was anything but normal.
Huberty had studied mortuary science as a young man, had a history of domestic violence, and was known to be paranoid about suspected government plans to bankrupt the United States. Prior to carrying out the murders, Huberty had moved his family to Tijuana, Mexico. Then they rented an apartment just a few blocks away from the targeted McDonald’s.
Benjamin Welton is a freelance writer based in Boston.