Did a Chicago man really destroy a Popeye’s over a pay dispute? We decided to find out. (video)

Screen grabs from the viral video showing the destruction and police arriving at the scene. | @emjayphan

CHICAGO — A viral video making the rounds this week purports to show a Popeye’s chicken restaurant employee destroying one of the chain’s Chicago locations because he hadn’t been paid for a month. Did that really happen? What’s the real story? We decided to find out. 

As is often the case, there’s a little more to the story than what the viral video presents. First, in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the video:

After a bit of digging, we learned that, yes, in fact, this did happen at a Popeye’s in Chicago. But the company says the man wasn’t paid for a reason.

Chicago police officers responded to the Popeye’s at 1959 West Howard Street in Rogers Park just before 6 p.m. Monday to handle a call of criminal damage in progress.

An “ex-employee is destroying the store,” a dispatcher radioed. She later updated officers to say the ex-employee had a knife and was “threatening workers.”

Officially, a CPD spokesperson confirmed that a “known man” entered a business in the 1900 block of West Howard on Monday evening and “became aggressive and irate. The offender then produced a knife and damaged items within and outside of the business.”

The man “took an unknown amount of U.S. currency from the registers and from a 22-year-old female’s bag,” the police spokesperson continued. He was gone by the time the police arrived. No one was injured during the incident.

So, is it true that the man had not been paid for a month? We asked Popeye’s corporate office about that.

“This employee failed to provide his required banking information and therefore could not be paid via direct deposit until he did so,” a Popeye’s spokesperson told us Friday. “When he was told that he could not be paid in cash, he proceeded to vandalize the restaurant. His behavior is obviously totally unacceptable. The restaurant franchisee has since paid him in full, terminated his employment and contacted the police.”

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com