A North Carolina family got the surprise of their lives when an elf at Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem turned on them.
Elsie Brooks took her daughter to see Santa Claus at the mall on Dec. 20, and she said one of the elves became aggressive with her and her mother after they began to take pictures.
Brooks told WGHP she just wanted her 3-year-old daughter to have a picture with Santa Claus. Brooks, her daughter, her mother, Christina MacDonald, and grandmother, Selma Brooks, were standing in line when the chaos erupted.
“One of Santa’s helpers started yelling at my mom, ‘You need to get behind the line,’ and just really nasty,” Brooks said.
She explained that they tried to reason with the elf.
“We said, ‘Ma’am, it is Christmas. No reason to talk like that,’” she said.
But the elf kept yelling for the family to get behind the line.
The women yelled back at the elf and began to walk away to report the incident to mall security.
Before leaving the scene, however, they snapped photos of the company’s name as well as the elf.
According to Brooks, that’s when the elf sprayed them with mace.
Brooks’ grandmother, who is 63, said her face was “on fire.”
Winston-Salem police charged the elf, Shannon Watkins, with simple assault.
Watkins’ mother, Frances Bruebaker, defended her daughter’s actions in a share of WGHP’s Facebook post, claiming Watkins warned the family several times before using the pepper spray. She also said the women had been taking photos of their own, which could interfere with the professional photographer’s equipment and cause shutdowns and delays. (None of which, of course, justifies physical assault, even assuming it’s all true.)
Watkins and Breaker did not respond to requests for comments by the U.K. Daily Mail.
Cherry Hill Photo Enterprises, which was responsible for the mall Santa, released a statement saying it was investigating the situation and that Watkins had been suspended.
Watch coverage of the incident below:
This is yet another disturbing story involving Christmas shoppers. Hopefully not too many children were traumatized by seeing one of Santa’s elves attack a family.
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H/T the U.K. Metro