TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — While in Houston after the Big Freeze in Texas in 2021, a Miami-area man and his family were hoping for lunch at a drive-in Jack-In-The-Box. The family’s order of curly fries, intended for their 6-year-old daughter, did not go through, leading to an argument with a restaurant employee, according to a statement from attorney Randall Kallinen.
Instead of receiving their fries, the family was shot after the argument got worse. Miami’s Anthony Ramos and his wife Jeraldin Ospina are speaking out now, following employee Alonniea Ford’s guilty plea.
According to court records and Houston Police Department documents relating to the March 2021 incident, Ford “fired a handgun at the complainants after an argument over french fries.”
Facts of the case
The plaintiffs in the case were Ramos and Ospina. According to police, after the argument, another suspect, who has not been identified, came to the Jack-In-The-Box and took the gun “in an effort to hide it from officers, knowing that it had been used in a crime”.
Both suspects have been arrested, according to HPD. Court records from a trial relating to the shooting incident show that Ramos had ordered a combo meal from the restaurant. After checking his order, Ramos saw that the fries were missing. When he told Ford about the missing item, she “refused to fulfill the order” which had already been paid for.
Ramos and Ospina, the plaintiffs, then asked to speak to the store manager, according to the court filing, but “the manager did not come to try to resolve the situation.” Then Ford “began cursing at the plaintiffs and yelling at them to ‘get the hell out of here!'” according to court documents.
When the plaintiffs argued with Ford, she threw ketchup, ice cream and a variety of other family-related items into their car, according to the lawsuit. Afterward, Ford “pulled a gun, forcing the complainants out of the drive-thru window.”
Ford then fired at the family’s car, which had Ramos and Ospina’s 6-year-old daughter in the back seat. The court filing also said Ospina was pregnant with another child at the time of the incident.
The lawsuit said Ford called a man named Kevin Theriot to “come and pick up the gun used to shoot” and the two were arrested at the scene. Texas court system records show Ford was charged with fatal driving with a firearm, which was reduced to a criminal offense of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Ford pleaded guilty in June 2022.
After the incident, Ospina and her daughter returned to Florida. Shortly after, Ramos quit his contract job in Houston, according to the family attorney, and also returned to Florida.
After the incident, Ospina and Ramos filed their lawsuit against Ford and Jack-In-The-Box. Their lawyer, Kallinen, said in a statement that the company should adjust its hiring practices.
First public press conference by family
Now that Ford has pleaded guilty and the family is reunited in Florida, Ramos and Kallinen spoke on behalf of the family about their experience in Texas. Wednesday’s press conference was to announce a lawsuit against Jack-In-The-Box as a corporation for the Houston incident.
According to Kallinen, Ford’s shots “thankfully” missed the car. When Houston police investigated the incident, they charged Ford with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which led to his guilty plea to fatal driving.
“Jack-In-The-Box needs to do background checks on employees so they don’t expose their customers to someone trying to kill them,” Kallinen said in a statement announcing the press conference. “These cases of rage are spiraling out of control in Houston.”
The lawsuit seeks to have Jack-In-The-Box change its processes and ask the company to adjust its employment and on-site policies to prevent guns from being brought into their stores.
“As far as customer service goes, I think that’s very important in these types of establishments,” Ramos said. “I think Jack-In-The-Box needs to do better when it comes to knowing who represents their companies.” He said they needed to “hire better people” to make sure this kind of thing didn’t happen again.
Kallinen said the family sought counsel due to the incident, in addition to seeking redress in court. The 6-year-old received mental health counseling due to ‘mental anguish’ from the experience and is still taking advice. Ramos briefly described the March incident.
“To be honest, I’ve never had this experience before, I was stunned,” Ramos said. “It was very, very scary. Usually I’m a very cautious and protective person, but at that moment I was overwhelmed.
He said for his wife and daughter it was a moment of panic and the family was lucky he was able to pull his car out when he did. Ramos said he called the police soon after when they reached a safe place. Bullets grazed the back of the car, according to Ramos, but no one inside was injured.
The lawsuit was filed in Harris County Court on September 12. The family is seeking damages for past and future physical and mental pain and suffering, as well as past and future medical bills, according to court documents. They are also seeking damages for lost wages and loss of earning capacity, not more than a total of $1 million, as well as changes to business policy.
Regarding Ford’s criminal history, Kallinen said she was convicted of making terrorist threats in 2012. Kallinen said someone “making terrorist threats” would be someone who could open fire on her. he had a gun. “In this case, they did,” he said of Ford.
According to attorney Mark Underwood, co-lawyer for Ramos and Ospina, the official knew about the incident but chose not to intervene and knew the discussion had heated up before Ford pulled out the gun. . Kallinen said Ford was given a suspended sentence and sentenced to one year probation because of her guilty plea. She served six days in jail, according to Underwood.
WFLA.com has contacted Jack-In-The-Box representatives, requesting a response to the dispute. The company’s spokesperson said it does not comment on legal matters, “particularly those involving independent franchisees.”
Kallinen said the suit has yet to be served on the company. The Houston location is a franchised restaurant, owned by A3H Foods General Partner, LLC.