More proof that Taco Bell is hurting for good employees: An investigation of Taco Bell surveillance camera footage revealed employees playing with fireworks inside of a Nashville Taco Bell, setting fire to the building, and accidentally locking themselves out. The incident occurred on July 5; the footage was reported on July 8.
According to a statement released on July 12 by the Nashville Fire Department, “the employees can be seen locking the doors to the dining room to keep customers from entering the business…the video then shows the employees running around the inside of the store with fireworks in their hands.”
Reportedly, the employees went into the men’s bathroom–and out of sight of the camera–for a brief period. After returning to the lobby, they placed an item–presumably fireworks or ignition–into a trash can near the door.
“Employees are seen using their cell phone cameras to record the trash can from the outside of the restaurant,” the fire department said. “Employees then realized they locked themselves out of the restaurant. The employees tried unsuccessfully to get back into the store. When the employees saw the trash can start to smoke, they called 911 for help.”
Firefighters responded quickly, forced entry into the restaurant, and were able to extinguish the fire. Later, investigators found traces of fireworks and damage inside the men’s bathroom.
Property damage costs are estimated to be more than $30,000.
25-year-old shift leader Courtney Mayes was arrested and charged with Felony Aggravated Arson on July 12, 2021. She is currently in the Davidson County jail with a $5,000 bond. The Nashville Fire Department has stated that the investigation is still ongoing and additional arrests are “expected in the coming days”.
Taco Bell’s official response to the arson and arrest consists of the standard “we can confirm that these franchise team members are no longer with the franchise organization” as well as “the franchise owner and operator of this location is cooperating with local officials on the matter.”
Nashville Fire Department on Arson
The Nashville Five Department states that “arson is one of the costliest human-made disasters” and that “arson indirectly contributes to increased insurance premiums, higher medical costs, lost jobs, lost income, and the increased costs of fire services.”
They urge those with information about arsons in the area to call the Tennessee Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017. Callers can remain anonymous and can be paid up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest or conviction.
Social Media Response
Comments on the Nashville Fire Department range from a succinct “Darwin” to a disbelieving “I guess I will never understand why people do such crazy things….that could have turned into a very terrible tragedy.” One user asks: “But are they going to release the video? Was it at least cool?”
One user falsely conflates an employee with an entire class of workers with their comment: “And they want $15 hr minimum wage? And there are those that think they just deserve $15 hr. Minimum wage.”