PALM BAY, Fla. – A 23-year veteran Palm Bay police officer is "stunned," after saying he was denied service by a clerk at a McDonald’s drive-thru because of his profession.
The general manager of the McDonald’s restaurant, located at the corner of Palm Bay Road and Babcock Street, would not comment on the incident but referred questions to the corporate office.
“I think they’ll handle it appropriately,” Lt. Tim Lancaster told News 6 partner FLORIDA TODAY on Sunday. “I was shocked, that’s a good word. I never thought I’d be at a point in my career when I’d see something like this.”
Lancaster took to social media, alerting friends and followers about the experience. That post has been shared more than 7,000 times since Friday. Lancaster said since the post, he and other officers have seen "overwhelming support."
"It's very humbling," Lancaster said, who has been involved in numerous community service and outreach programs over the years.
Lancaster reported the incident happened Friday when he went in uniform to the 4705 Babcock Street location to grab a quick lunch.
“I ordered my lunch, paid at the first window and moved up to the second window to pick up lunch. When I got to the window, the clerk looked at me with my drink in hand and stopped,” Lancaster wrote on his Facebook page.
“She handed my drink to another clerk and walked away in disgust,” Lancaster said, who then asked the other worker at the window if something was wrong.
The clerk told Lancaster "that the other clerk refuses to serve cops. I was embarrassed and upset,” he wrote.
Palm Bay resident Gary Gregory said after hearing Lancaster's story, he'll never eat at McDonald's again.
"If you want to dishonor an officer or a soldier in this country, that's pathetic," Gregory said. "You don't disrespect the people that serve us, take care of us, keep us free. Are you out of your mind?"
Supporting Palm Bay police officers, a Domino's pizza location across Babcock Street is offering half off prices to all customers in uniform.
"I would say it does look bad on the company as a whole," Domino's general manager Trevor Proctor said about McDonald's. "In any sort of situation, local law enforcement is the first place you call. And you always ask them for help, but they don't ask you for help. It's the least we can really do."
The general manager of the McDonald’s, Omar Perez, would not confirm the status of the employee involved in the incident.
The same restaurant has in the past hosted Palm Bay Police Department’s "Coffee With a Cop" community outreach program.
Officers were also called to the location in December to investigate a burglary at the older restaurant in the same plaza after Perez and others noticed over $40,000 in grills and fryers missing.
McDonald’s corporate office said in a statement, "We have respect for all first responders and are investigating. The behavior described in this Facebook post is unacceptable and not tolerated in our restaurants.”