Updated: 1:47 p.m., September 15
A 25-year-old man was arrested by Ocala police Wednesday after they say he cut a car line waiting for gas and picked up and slammed a station employee.
Rashad V. Johnson was charged with battery on a person over 65 and was taken to the Marion County Jail, according to a news release from the Ocala Police Department.
Johnson and driver Brittney Newton cut the waiting line at the Diamond Oil gas station on Northeast 16th Avenue in Ocala, the release said.
“As a whole, our community has responded beautifully to this storm and has been so generous and kind and compassionate to their neighbors,” Ocala Police Department spokeswoman Meghan Shay said.
Shay said that although tensions are high within the community post Hurricane Irma, she does feel that this was an isolated event and personally feels that it’s a shame.
“Some of the tensions have been heightened just by having to sit in long lines to get gas,” she said. “This is the first physical incident that we are aware of.”
Such lines are continuing to form in North Central Florida and across the state as stations struggle with gas shortages following Hurricane Irma, and this line was being controlled by a gas station employee.
The employee told Johnson and Newton to leave or move to the back of the line, the release said. But they ignored the request, and Johnson began pumping gas while Newton went inside the station.
The employee continued to demand that Johnson leave, but Johnson ignored him, the release said. The employee then removed the gas handle from the vehicle, causing fuel to spill on Johnson.
Johnson then picked up the employee and slammed him against the vehicle, causing him to fall to the ground.
Witnesses told police that Johnson lifted the employee between 6 inches and 1 foot off the ground, and they provided cell phone video of the incident to them.
Shay said that the victim was fine and did not request medical attention.
“Fortunately, he had a good attitude about all of it as long as the individual was put in jail and had to pay for what he did,” she said.