4 in custody after glass busted at Lafayette, American Coney Islands

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Four people were taken into custody Friday after windows and doors were shattered at two downtown Detroit institutions within 24 hours.

The doors and windows of Lafayette Coney Island were smashed Friday morning just before lunch, and the door of American Coney Island aside it was shattered, owners said.

Detroit police officers were called to American and Lafayette coney islands on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019.

The incident at Lafayette began at 11:30 a.m. Friday, when a man walked into American Coney Island and was forced out. He walked next door to Lafayette where, workers said, he was belligerent to workers.

Police said the man "attempted to make a purchase and was forced to leave." 

The man then used an unknown object to allegedly break Lafayette's front doors and windows, which left gaping holes in the area where passersby can watch the employees preparing their famous coneys.

Broken glass at Lafayette Coney Island on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019.

Three Lafayette workers fought with the suspect; all four, including the patron, were taken into custody at 11:45 a.m., police said. The patron was transported to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

"We don't know why ... they think we're not American. It doesn't stop," said David Ciuma, who works at Lafayette. He's from Romania and has been in the country for 40 years, he said.

Lafayette was closed for two hours after the incident and owners who usually handled the books are working the grills after workers were arrested.

Next door, American Coney Island's glass entrance is being held together by tape after someone threw a rock and shattered it Thursday night, the owner said.

The glass door of American Coney Island is being held by tape after a patron threw a rock at their front door Thursday, Aug. 28, 2019.

Owners of the two famous hot dog eateries say it's happening far too often and wonder what can be done.

"It happens a lot, once a month at least," said Grace Keros, owner of American Coney Island. "This isn't cheap glass, and for those who think our insurance takes care of it, look into glass deductibles in the city of Detroit."

Keros' grandfather opened the first Lafayette 102 years ago. She took over as owner 30 years ago and said glass being broken has been a problem for "as long as I can remember."

Owner of American Coney Island talks on the endless broken glass.

She said they're used to it on the weekends and pay private security to prevent it at their busiest times on Friday and Saturday nights. 

"We're not used to this happening during the day, and I don't know what to do," Keros said. "We have cameras and no, Green Light is just watching it has it happens. It doesn't prevent it. We're open 24-hours. We report it but often, these crazy guys aren't around long enough to get arrested and it's not the police's fault.

"(Police) overworked and underpaid ... there's not enough of them to deal with this and everything else going on."

Often times, Keros said, people linger and start trouble, and it usually leads to glass breaking. Other times, it's people walking by in the middle of the night who think it's funny.

"Welcome to Detroit ... I love it, though, and wouldn't change it for a thing," Keros said.

srahal@detroitnews.com / Twitter: @SarahRahal_