A social media post by a disgruntled Starbucks customer in San Diego has prompted a big response from Facebook users around the country, according to KTLA sister station KSWB in San Diego.
Earlier this week, a woman claimed she was refused service by an employee at the store because she wasn’t wearing a mask. The incident happened less than a week after Gov. Gavin Newsom mandated that masks are necessary in almost every public setting statewide.
“Meet lenen from Starbucks, who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask,” she wrote on Facebook. “Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption.”
The post received more than 110,000 comments in about 24 hours. However, most commenters expressed sympathy for the employee, not the woman who was refused service.
“Give the kid a break,” said Joanne Sharp, a customer at the same Starbucks where the incident happened. “He’s just doing his job.”
The woman behind the post was interviewed Thursday by KNSD in San Diego, which identified her as 35-year-old Amber Lynn Gilles. She said she fears for her safety after shaming the barista.
“I never threatened him, and I’ve received death threats — thousands,” she told the station. “It’s very upsetting. It’s very scary.”
When KSWB went to the Gilles’s home Tuesday, her husband told a reporter she has asthma — which would exempt her from California’s mask order. But KNSD did not say Gilles made that claim when they interviewed her.
Gilles told KNSD she’s a mother of three who opposes vaccinations and believes face masks are ineffective.
“It starts with coffee but it ends with digital certificates and forced vaccinations,” she said.
The barista, Lenin Gutierrez, posted a video of his own to Facebook, saying Gilles told him she didn’t need a mask when he asked if she had one.
“Before I could say anything she flipped me off and said, ‘I don’t need one,’ and she started cursing up a storm,” he said. “She started calling people sheep and she left, and within a few minutes came back and she asked for my name and took a photo.”
A San Diego County spokesperson said private businesses can refuse service, and many Starbucks locations will serve customers through the drive-thru if they don’t want to wear a mask in the store.
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe campaign set up in support of Gutierrez raised more than $52,000 in three days, exceeding its goal. The barista posted a video message thanking donors and reminding “everyone to be kind to one another and to love each other,” and to “always remember to wear a mask.”
Gilles told KNSD she wants some of the GoFundMe money and threatened to sue the page creator for defamation and slander.