TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — While in Houston after the Big Freeze in Texas in 2021, a Miami-area man and his family hoped to get some lunch at a Jack-In-The-Box drive-thru. The family’s order of curly fries, intended for their 6-year-old daughter, did not come through, leading to an argument with a restaurant employee, according to a statement from attorney Randall Kallinen.

Instead of receiving their fries, the family was shot at after the discussion took a turn for the worse. Anthony Ramos of Miami, and his wife Jeraldin Ospina, are now speaking out, following employee Alonniea Ford’s guilty plea.

According to court records, and documents from the Houston Police Department from the incident in March 2021, Ford “fired a handgun at complainants after an argument over French fries.”

Facts of the case

The complainants in the case were Ramos and Ospina. Police say after the argument, another suspect, who was not identified, came to the Jack-In-The-Box and took the gun away “in an attempt to hide it from officers, knowing it was used in a crime.”

Both suspects were arrested, according to HPD. Court records from a lawsuit about the shooting incident show that Ramos had ordered a combo meal at the restaurant. After checking his order, Ramos saw the fries were missing. When he spoke to Ford about the missing item, she “refused to fulfill the order” which had already been paid for.

Ramos and Ospina, the plaintiffs, then asked to speak to the store manager, according to the court filing, but “the manager did not come to try to resolve the situation.” Then, Ford “began cursing at plaintiffs and yelling at them to ‘get the f*** outta here!” according to court documents.

When the plaintiffs argued with Ford, she threw ketchup, ice, and a variety of other items at the family in their car, the lawsuit said. After, Ford “pulled out a gun, causing plaintiffs to pull forward out of the drive-thru window area.”

Ford then shot at the family’s car, which had Ramos’ and Ospina’s 6-year-old daughter in the back seat. The court filing also said Ospina was pregnant with another child at the time of the incident.

The lawsuit said Ford called a man named Kevin Theriot to “come and retrieve the gun used to shoot” and both were arrested at the scene. Records from the Texas court system show that Ford was charged with deadly conduct with a firearm, which was reduced to a felony offense of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Ford pleaded guilty in June 2022.

Following the incident, Ospina and her daughter returned to Florida. Soon after, Ramos quit his contract job in Houston, according to the family’s attorney, and returned to Florida, as well.

After the incident, Ospina and Ramos filed their lawsuit against both Ford and Jack-In-The-Box. Their attorney, Kallinen, said in a statement that the company should adjust its hiring practices.

First public news conference by family

Now that Ford has pleaded guilty and the family is together in Florida, Ramos and Kallinen spoke for the family about their experience in Texas. The news conference on Wednesday was to announce a lawsuit against Jack-In-The-Box as a company for the incident in Houston.

According to Kallinen, Ford’s shots “luckily” missed hitting the car. When Houston Police investigated the incident, they charged Ford with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, leading to her plea of guilty to deadly conduct.

“Jack-In-The-Box needs to do background check on employees so as not to expose their customers to someone who would attempt to kill them,” Kallinen said in a statement announcing the news conference. “These rage cases are getting out of hand in Houston.”

The lawsuit is seeking to have Jack-In-The-Box change their processes, and asking the company to adjust its employment and on-site policies, to prevent firearms from being brought to their stores.

“When it comes down to customer serivce, I think it’s very important in those types of establishments,” Ramos said. “I think Jack-In-The-Box needs to do better when it comes to who is representing their companies.” He said they need “hire better quality people,” to make sure this type of situation isn’t repeated.

Kallinen said the family had sought counseling due to the incident, in addition to seeking relief in court. The 6-year-old daughter has had mental health counseling due to the “mental anguish” of the experience and is still undergoing counseling. Ramos briefly described the incident in March.

“To be honest, I’ve never had that experience happen to me before, I was dumbfounded,” Ramos said. “It was very, very scary. Usually I’m a very cautious, protective person, but at that moment I was overwhelmed.”

He said for his wife and daughter, it was a panic moment, and that the family was lucky that he was able to pull his car away when he did. Ramos said he called the police shortly after when they’d reached a safe spot. Bullets grazed the back of the car, according to Ramos, but no one inside was injured.

The lawsuit was filed in Harris County court on Sept. 12. The family is requesting damages for past and future physical and mental pain and suffering, as well as for past and future medical bills, according to court documents. They are also seeking damages for lost wages and loss of earning capacity, not more in total of $1 million, as well as the changes to business policy.

Regarding Ford’s previous criminal history, Kallinen said she had been convicted of making terroristic threats in 2012. Kallinen said that someone “who would make terroristic threats” would be someone who may open fire if they had a weapon. “In this case, they did,” he said about Ford.

According to attorney Mark Underwood, co-counsel for Ramos and Ospina, the manager was aware of the incident but chose not to intervene, and had been aware that the discussion had grown heated before Ford pulled out the firearm. Kallinen said Ford was given deferred adjudication and sentenced for a year of probation due to her guilty plea. She served six days of jail time, according to Underwood.

WFLA.com reached out to representatives at Jack-In-The-Box, asking for a response to the litigation. The company’s spokesperson said they do not comment on legal matters, “particularly those which involve independent franchise owners.”

Kallinen said the suit had not yet been served to the business. The location in Houston is a franchised restaurant, owned by A3H Foods General Partner, LLC.