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Waffle House shooter was told to wear a mask, Colorado police say

A cook at the eatery was hospitalized and released, authorities said.

A man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after opening fire on a Waffle House employee who told him he needed to wear a mask, authorities in Colorado said.

He was arrested Monday. The attack happened early Friday at a restaurant in the Denver suburb of Aurora, police said in a statement. Officers responding to a report of a fight and possible shooting found the employee with a gunshot wound, the Aurora Police Department said.

"The victim was transported to the hospital and is recovering from his injury," police said.

Image: Kelvin Watson
Kelvin Watson.Aurora Colorado Police

An arrest affidavit alleges suspect Kelvin Watson, 27, attempted to purchase takeout food when he was told by a cook that he could not order without a mask.

The suspect allegedly returned later that night with a mask, which he was not wearing, and was again turned away by the same cook. He then placed a gun on the counter and told the man, "I can blow your brains out right now," a witness told police, according to the affidavit.

He returned Friday, was rejected a third time, and slapped the cook before opening fire, the affidavit alleged.

The victim was running when he was shot in the chest or abdomen, the report says.

The suspect, described in the affidavit as a regular customer, was tracked down through witness descriptions and a 2013 BMW sedan people in the restaurant said the shooter used, police said in the affidavit.

Aurora police discovered Watson was wanted for questioning in an April non-injury shooting at a Denver tow yard that had temporary possession of Watson's BMW, according to the document. The caliber associated with that attack was the same used in the Waffle House shooting, police said.

On May 8, the region's stay-at-home orders were allowed to expire, and Aurora-area residents defaulted to state rules, which encourage residents to "wear a face covering or mask when you leave your home."

Waffle House was open for takeout and delivery only.

"We are relieved to hear that Aurora police have made an arrest for this terrible crime, and greatly appreciate the diligence of local law enforcement," Waffle House spokesperson Njeri Boss said in a statement. "Our thoughts and well wishes remain with our associate who was injured and now is recovering at home."

Watson was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail. Charges were expected to be heard in court, via video conference, on Friday, court spokesperson Shaun Clark said by email.