Brian Durham Jr: Arizona Wendy’s employee, 16, shot in the head by buyer over BARBECUE SAUCE
PHOENIX, ARIZONA: The father of a teen Wendy's employee in Arizona is grateful for the support from the community after his son was shot during a fight over barbecue sauce. The alleged victim wasn't even a part of the dispute, authorities said.
Brian Durham Jr, 16, was shot in the head on Friday, January 14, after a customer opened fire through the drive-thru window of the fast-food joint and jumped into the passenger side of a getaway vehicle that fled the scene. Police announced on Saturday, January 15, that they had arrested the alleged suspect, Theotis Polk, 27, and charged him with aggravated assault. Durham Jr miraculously survived the ordeal after hours-long emergency surgery, according to his father, Brian Durham Sr.
The embattled father told KSAZ TV how the bullet grazed his son's head but luckily missed his brain. "My son just stayed quiet and had the guy’s change in his hand," Durham Sr said. "[He] just stayed quiet while the other two was in confrontation. It was very nerve-wracking hearing that your son got shot because you don't know what. Is his leg shot? Is he dead? A lot of things is racing through your mind."
Speaking to KPNX, Durham Sr explained how his son was standing at the register between Polk and his intended target, who reportedly told the alleged gunman he had to pay extra for the barbecue sauce. “So, the dude on the outside tells him, ‘No, you [have] to pay for it,’ so he started getting louder,” Durham Sr said. “The [suspect] got up, out of his car, walked up to the window and just shot, didn’t care about life.”
DRIVE-THRU SHOOTING: 16yo Brian Durham is in the hospital after being shot in the head while working at a PHX Wendy’s near 19th Ave/Glendale. His dad tells me it’s a miracle he’s alive & the incident stemmed from a customer not getting enough BBQ sauce. Story at 5. #fox10phoenix pic.twitter.com/z2mQLctdbg— ᴊᴜꜱᴛɪɴ ʟᴜᴍ | 林俊豪 (@jlumfox10) January 14, 2022
Durham Sr said it was a "miracle" that his son was still breathing. "My son ain't supposed to be standing. If he would have switched two seconds to the left, maybe one, he would have been gone," he said, adding that doctors are now focusing on his recovery. “They said how the bullet fragments [hit his brain], they don’t know how his speech is going to be,” the father said. “They give him commands and he moves his fingers and toes but can’t talk.”
Durham Sr explained that his son got the job to support his mother with bills while being a full-time student. Following the incident, the family set up a GoFundMe campaign to help with medical expenses, sparking an outpouring of support from the community.
The online fundraiser went from zero to more than $27,000 of its $10,000 goal in a matter of hours. “He’s taken care of. Hospital bills. I…I cried upstairs. Because it was so exciting because I thought people don’t care anymore. You know? And to come together for my son,” Durham Sr told ABC15. When asked about the suspect arrested in connection with the shooting, the father said, “He shot a 16-year-old kid over barbecue sauce. So just imagine what he would do for anything else. I’m happy. He needs to be locked away and throw away the key."