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Maui man says he was punched at eatery after reminding a Florida family to wear masks

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 5:59 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A West Maui man says he was punched in the face over the weekend after reminding visitors to wear their masks.

Lahaina resident Humberto Cardenas said he was in line at Panda Express about 6 p.m. Saturday when the family came in. “The son and the father aren’t wearing a mask,” he said.

Cardenas, 21, said he tried to educate the family visiting from Florida about Hawaii’s mask mandate, but they refused to listen to him.

“The father was like, ‘Do you work here? Mind your own business.’ He was telling me to leave them alone,” Cardenas said. “So, I let them know again, ‘You have to have a mask, you’re in Hawaii. You’re not back in your hometown.’”

Cardenas said the verbal exchange eventually turned physical and left him with a bloody eye.

Humberto Cardenas
Humberto Cardenas(Humberto Cardenas)

“His father put his finger on my chest. So out of defense, I reacted. I hit him because you don’t just touch someone. After that, his son came at me. I never laid my hands on him.

“He started hitting me, his dad was holding me back,” he said.

Cardenas’ mom called police then started videotaping.

“You could tell they walked out without their masks. The police never fined them or anything. None of that happened,” Cardenas said.

Maui police filed a disorderly conduct report and said all parties involved were warned and reprimanded for their actions. No arrests were made.

“I do work in the food industry. So there are people who come without masks and I let them know, you have to have a mask,” Cardenas said. “They get mad, they let their anger out on us. They get verbally abusive and they start being rude. They expect aloha but don’t give it in return.”

The on-duty manager at Panda Express in Lahaina wouldn’t comment on the incident and would not release the surveillance video.

Panda Express released the following statement:

“At Panda Express, we are dedicated to creating a restaurant experience that is welcoming for all guests and associates, and we remain committed to maintaining a safe and respectful environment for the entire community. Our mask policy requires all guests to wear appropriate face coverings at Panda Express locations in parts of the country where face masks are still mandatory, including Hawaii. Due to privacy concerns, we do not release store footage to the public, but our team is actively cooperating with authorities on this situation.”

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