Two arraigned after gun drawn over bump at Orion Twp. Chipotle
Orion Township — Authorities say a bump between people outside a Chipotle restaurant in Orion Township escalated into an intense situation captured on video involving a white woman pulling a gun on a Black mother and her three children amid accusations of racism.
A day after the Wednesday evening confrontation, a husband and wife were charged with assault, and the man was fired from his Oakland University job.
Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper charged Jillian Wuestenberg, 32, and Eric Wuestenberg, 42, each with one count of felonious assault, a four-year felony. The Clarkston couple each possessed one loaded firearm and CPL licenses, Sheriff Mike Bouchard said.
The couple was arraigned Thursday at 52-3 District Court in Rochester Hills. Both were given a $50,000 personal bond.
"As part of the bond conditions, they must turn over all firearms, not engage in any assaultive behavior, and may not leave the state," sheriff's officials said.
The incident stemmed from a bump and lack of apology, according to Bouchard.
"Let's have a little more tolerance for each other and not being so quick to react," Bouchard said. "If someone is doing something improper or unfair, I tell my family and friends to look away. This is not the moment to plant your flag."
During a Thursday afternoon press conference at Oakland County Sheriff's Office headquarters in Pontiac, the department played six 911 calls that came in around 6 p.m. Wednesday, one allegedly from Jillian Wuestenberg, saying she felt threatened and two females were damaging her car in the parking lot on the 4900 block of South Baldwin, near Interstate 75.
Other calls came from Chipotle employees and bystanders who saw a white woman holding a gun aimed at several Black females in the parking lot.
Deputies responded to the incident, placed Jillian Wuestenberg, who is white, in handcuffs and confiscated the weapon, Bouchard said.
Takelia Hill, who is Black, said her 15-year-old daughter, Makayla Green, was bumped into by Wuestenberg before entering the fast-food restaurant. The daughter said she asked the woman for an apology and said the woman began yelling at her.
“Before I could walk into Chipotle, this woman was coming out, and I had moved out the way so she can walk out," Makayla Green told The Detroit News. “She bumped me, and I said, 'Excuse you.' And then she started cussing me out and saying things like I was invading her personal space.”
The teen called her mother over because she said she was scared.
“I walked up on the woman yelling at my daughter," Hill told The News. “She couldn’t see me because her back was to me, but she was in my daughter's face."
That initial encounter was not caught on video. The footage that was taken starts after the altercation moved to the Chipotle parking lot near the armed woman's vehicle. The video, which was recorded by Makayla, has been viewed more than 12.5 million times on social media.
At one point, the woman who pulled the gun listens to the mom and teen, one of whom accused the woman of being "ignorant" and "racist." A man from the vehicle exits and asks the pair, "Who the (expletive) do you think you guys are?" and helps the woman into the vehicle. He and Hill exchange angry words before he walks back to the driver's side.
From the passenger seat, as Hill asks the woman why she bumped her daughter, the woman says through the rolled down passenger-side window: "You cannot just walk around calling white people racist. ... White people aren't racist. ... I care about you, and I’m sorry if you had an incident that has made someone make you feel like that. No one is racist.”
The woman rolls up her window, and Hill is seen stepping back as the vehicle starts to drive away.
Hill said she thought the driver was going to hit them as the driver backed out of the parking space, so she hit the back window of the vehicle to stop it.
The woman jumped out and pulled a gun. The woman walks backward and repeatedly shouts "Get the (expletive) back!" and "Back the (expletive) up!" as she points the gun. The man also briefly exits the vehicle with a gun.
Jillian Wuestenberg allegedly climbed back into the vehicle as Hill yelled for someone to call 911.
The Black family wasn't armed, Bouchard said Thursday.
Oakland County Executive David Coulter called the incident disturbing.
“I am deeply disturbed by an incident last night where a woman pointed a cocked gun at another woman during an argument," Coulter said in a statement Thursday. "This behavior is unacceptable. I wholly expect the prosecutor to bring charges that reflect the severity of the incident.”
The backlash over the incident was swift.
Eric Wuestenberg, who worked as a coordinator for veterans support services at Oakland University, was fired. He was also armed during the Wednesday incident, according to authorities.
"We have seen the video, and we deem his behavior unacceptable," a statement from OU said. "The employee has been notified that his employment has been terminated by the university."
On Thursday, state Sen. Rosemary Bayer, D-Beverly Hills, called the incident unacceptable.
"There is nothing acceptable about what happened in Orion Township last night at the Chipotle. It is abhorrent to think that some in this country have such a sense of self-righteousness and entitlement that the idea of pulling a gun out on an unarmed child and her mother is OK," Bayer said in a statement.
"It is not, and I condemn anyone who thinks otherwise. My heart goes out to Ms. Hill and her daughters, who may now forever be traumatized by this experience."
Bayer also called for gun reform.
"Michigan needs commonsense gun reform, and we need it now. People should feel safe going about their day and not have to worry about having a gun pulled on them during a conflict," she said. "This incident clearly shows we have much work to do because this is not how we should be treating each other.”
Bouchard said the incident had nothing to do with gun reform and those involved legally possessed their weapons.
"Remember, each one of us is a human being that deserves respect," Bouchard said. "From my personal point of view, this is a blessing from God. So let's treat each other like that. It's very sad for me to see what's going on across communities across this country."