LEWISVILLE, Texas - A Whataburger employee has been fired after turning away two North Texas police officers from a Lewisville location.
Officers Michael Magovern and Cameron Beckham were working off-duty security at a construction site on Interstate 35 on Tuesday night and decided to grab a bite to eat at Whataburger on Main Street in Lewisville.
Magovern said before he could even order, a man behind the counter looked at him and said, "We don't serve police officers."
The officers thought he was joking, but the man behind the counter didn't say anything else. They ended up leaving and got food at Dairy Queen instead.
Whataburger apologized in a statement released midday Wednesday.
"We were appalled to hear of an employee refusing service to two officers, as we have proudly served first responders across our system for decades. As soon as we heard of this isolated incident, we began our own internal investigation overnight. The employee that refused service is no longer employed with Whataburger. We've also invited the officers back today so we can apologize in person and make this right."
Officer Magovern said he still loves Whataburger and doesn't want to throw them under the bus. He believes this is a problem with one location or one employee.
"We've seen it on social media. We heard it on the news. You know, 17 years as a firefighter and now 13 years as a police officer this is the first time this has ever happened to me," he said.
"It really strikes a nerve personally and professionally because maybe he's joking or maybe he's not, but how do we trust that individual or that company to cook anyone's food now," Officer Beckham added.
Magovern regularly works for the Strawn City Marshall's Office and Beckham works for the Milford Police Department.
Some customers who were there don't believe the employee meant any serious harm.
Gabriel Ramirez was grabbing a bite to eat with his dad, James, when the incident happened.
"He was laughing as he said it," said James. "Of course, the officers didn't take it very lightly."
James says it seemed like the employee was trying to make a joke, but knew he slipped up.
"The manager started apologizing, saying, 'I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say that,'" said James.
But Magovern and Beckham say they walked out, then came back to get the employee's name when the employee said, "You know I was joking."
The officers say it didn't seem genuine.
"It makes you realize that this is how a lot of these guys feel," said Beckham.
Whataburger corporate says after it fired the employee, it invited the officers and their families back to the restaurant to make things right.
The officers say they wanted Whataburger to retrain the manager rather than fire him.
A GoFundMe page has surfaced to help support the former employee.
The fired employee's brother calls him a jokester, a good guy and a father in his 50s who loved working at the restaurant.
In fact, his family says he had worked there for years and was proud he worked his way up to a manager position.
The manager tells family that he was just joking around, trying to make the officers laugh.
The brother says he now knows the seriousness of what he said.
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