Police: Employee fallen on 'hard times' attacks restaurant owner

SEATTLE -- An employee who said he was going through some hard times attacked a Ballard restaurant owner with a hammer Sunday morning over a disagreement about tips, according to the Seattle Police Department.

According to the police report for the incident, the owner, suspect and two other employees were inside The Sexton on Ballard Avenue around 10:40 a.m. when the suspect told the owner he needed all his tips because of some hard times he was currently going through.

The owner opened the restaurant's safe and informed the suspect he was owed a few hundred dollars. According to the report, the suspect disagreed and said he was owed approximately $500.

The owner said he would not give the suspect $500 and suggested he come back later to discuss the issue.

According to the report, that's when the suspect grabbed a hammer and wrench sitting nearby and started swinging them at the owner. The owner grabbed the tools, and the two men struggled for control of them, with the hammer's claw coming dangerously close to the owner's head.

An employee who had been behind the bar came out and tried to stop the fight, but the suspect kicked her in the stomach, knocking her backward into a wall, according to the report.

Another employee who had been in the kitchen jumped in and pulled the suspect away from the owner, and the owner took the tools from the suspect.

According to the report, the suspect picked up a stool, threw it at the owner and left the restaurant.

Officers were unable to find the suspect when they arrived, and the case has been referred to the City Attorney's Office for follow up.