PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Police say two Philadelphia women face criminal charges in a late-night convenience store altercation that’s the subject of a just released internet video that’s already been shared more than 50,000 times.
Police and locals will tell you the 7-Eleven on the 5000 block of Frankford avenue in the city’s Frankford section can get a little dicey in the overnight hours.
"At nighttime, I'm afraid to come around by myself," said Chuck Gatlin, who lives just behind the store.
It was around 2:15 a.m. Sunday, October 1 when police say the store manager told two women-- 20-year-old Lashae Whitaker and 28-year-old Tierra Brown-- to leave the store after an alleged shoplifting incident the previous night.
Cops say the pair refused to leave so they were locked in by store security with police on the way. The camera phone footage shows Whitaker squaring off against a 7-Eleven security guard and moments later she kicked at the front door as another staffer appears to point pepper spray in her direction.
"At one point, one of the offenders picks up bottles of lighter fluid and starts spraying it all over the store and-- with a lighter-- threatened to burn down the store if they didn't let them out of the store," said Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum of Northeast Detectives.
Video of the incident was the talk of the neighborhood Tuesday.
"I don't know what to think of it,” said an incredulous Amber Jackson. “It's nonsense!"
It got worse.
In the video, Whitaker can be seen grabbing jugs of cleanser or automotive fluid off a shelf and lobbing them across the store like grenades.
The first police officer arrives, calls for back-up and enters the 7-Eleven as the door opens. Police say Whitaker immediately lunges at the officer, he punches her and wrestles her to the floor, amid wild swings from both sides.
Ultimately, police took both women into custody. Both face a laundry list of criminal charges.
The officer's actions are under review, but Lt. Rosenbaum says it appears his use of force was justified.
As for the two women who overstayed their welcome?
"The lesson is if the store doesn't want you there, leave,” said Lt. Rosenbaum. “All they had to do was turn around and walk out."
FOX 29's Bruce Gordon reached the 7-Eleven store owner by phone. He declined to comment on the incident and would not say whether it is store policy to lock customers involved in an altercation inside the store.
Rosenbaum says it’s not recommended, noting that if the brawling customers were armed, things could end very badly.