A San Francisco McDonald’s closed temporarily Sunday morning for a major cleaning operation after a man carried a dead raccoon dripping blood into the restaurant.
A customer posted video of the troubling scene online and, although details remain thin about the circumstances, the incident is quickly becoming a symbol of the tough situation the city faces with mentally ill citizens and the businesses grappling with serving them.
Chris Brooks, 54, of San Francisco was picking up an Egg McMuffin before work at the McDonald’s at Potrero Avenue and 16th Street when he saw the man gripping the lifeless animal in his arms. Brooks ran to his car to get his phone to take video.
“The guy came in screaming, ‘Help, help, help!'” said Brooks. “He came to the counter, and I thought it was a dog at first. The employees told him to leave and he went and sat down with it. ”
He added: “There was blood on the table and blood on the floor and, with people walking around, you could see them tracking the blood around.”
Brooks often stops at this McDonald’s in the early morning and says it’s frequented by people without housing seeking warm food and an escape from the cold. On Tuesday, he estimates over two dozen customers were in the restaurant.
The San Francisco Police Department responded to the scene at about 7 a.m. and Officer Adam Lobsinger says the man was evaluated for mental health.
“Based on our information, he didn’t meet the criteria (for psychiatric detention),” said Lobsinger. “We always offer services. The city has a number of services. When we do a mental health detention, that’s a little more in-depth. That means you’re a threat to yourself or to others.”
Lobsinger could not provide details on the man’s housing situation.
McDonald’s said in a statement the restaurant was closed and sanitized immediately after the incident.
“Staff cleaned and sanitized the entire dining room and reopened the restaurant two hours later,” the statement reads. “The health department visited the restaurant this afternoon and cleared the restaurant for full operations.”
Rachel Kagan with the San Francisco Department of Public Health confirmed the restaurant responded properly and that a health inspector visited the site.
“The health concerns would be about the blood and the potential to spread bacteria or a virus,” said Kagan. “If the cleaning was done right, that would take care of that concern.”
Kagan said a physician who works with homeless people watched the video and “he cannot infer anything about the man’s condition.”
While the condition of the man with the raccoon can’t be confirmed, the incident is an example of the type of difficult situation San Francisco business owners can find themselves in when serving customers who are addicted to drugs or potentially mentally ill.
Kagan says the city created the Healthy Streets Operations Center last year to better respond to street behavior and homeless issues while also helping businesses.
“There are troubled people in our city and there are many ways many city agencies are working together to provide support and care for those people as well as to provide public safety protection and improve the quality of life for everybody,” she said.