(Meredith) – A uniformed officer carrying his service weapon said he was asked to leave an Outback Steakhouse restaurant because it’s a “gun-free zone.”
Andrew Ward of the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency said he went to the restaurant to have dinner with his wife on Friday in Cleveland, Tennessee.
Ward said a manager approached him after a customer claimed to be “scared for her life” and wanted the gun out of her presence. The manager then asked Ward if he could put the gun in his truck.
“I let her know that I couldn’t because I was in uniform,” Ward wrote in a Facebook post. “She then went and made a call and came back, and we were asked to leave because Outback is a gun-free zone. Note: I don’t blame the manager… but this is ridiculous...”
“What is this country coming to?” he continued. “A uniformed Law Enforcement Officer who is sworn to protect and serve the public is refused service because they have a firearm! I am disgusted and have no other words!!!”
The Facebook post quickly went viral and amassed more than 160,000 reactions and 216,000 shares.
Ward told his local news station, WTVC, he later spoke with the restaurant manager, regional manager, and vice president of operations. He said they all apologized.
Bloomin’ Brands Inc., the parent company of Outback, also released the following statement: “We’ve always allowed uniformed law enforcement officers to carry their firearms inside our restaurants. A manager made a mistake, and we have discussed this with her. We have contacted the guest personally and apologized.”
The company also gave Ward a $100 gift card.
In a follow-up post, the officer thanked his community for their support and accepted Outback’s apology.
The amount of support our community has shown us is truly humbling. I have read so many comments and post left by so many people regarding our experience at the Outback Steakhouse in Cleveland TN. Outback has called and apologized to me and my family and we have truly accepted this apology. There was a mistake made and that’s it... we all make mistakes and must move forward with our lives.
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