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Restaurant owner sprays Utah smoker in the face with a fire extinguisher, video shows

A Salt Lake City restaurateur holds a small fire extinguisher at his side as he argues Friday with two men smoking near one of his eateries, a video posted to Facebook shows.

The men argue they’re not within 25 feet of a business entrance, as required by Utah law, but the eatery owner points out they’re standing next to a patio dining area, the video shows.

“Are you really going to spray them with a fire extinguisher?” the woman shooting the video asks.

“I’m going to put that cigarette out,” the restaurateur says in the video. “You can’t smoke right here.”

One of the smokers, Jon Bird, who posted the video shot by his girlfriend to Facebook, takes a drag on his cigarette. He flinches as the man raises the extinguisher, then faces him with the cigarette in his mouth.

“Do it,” Bird says in the video. The eatery owner raises the extinguisher again and sprays Bird in the face with a short burst, the video shows.

“Call the cops,” someone says. “Call the cops,” replies the restaurant owner, before the video ends.

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Alex Jamison, who owns two restaurants near Gallivan Center, identified himself as the man with the fire extinguisher in the video, KSL reported.

“Well, I’ll say that I’m not proud of my behavior, I let myself get egged on and I overreacted,” Jamison said in a statement, according to the station. ”I’m a protective small business owner who has asked hundreds of people not to smoke near our patio in the interest of our customers and our neighbors’ customers.”

Jamison said he’d asked Bird to stop smoking outside his restaurant several times that day but apologized for spraying him with the fire extinguisher and said he’d like to “make it right.”

Bird said he was volunteering at an arts festival nearby and says a security guard gave him permission to smoke near the restaurant, KUTV reported.

“Who in their right mind puts a fire extinguisher a foot and half away from someone’s face and just lets go?” Bird said, KSL reported. He said he has shortness of breath and headaches from the chemicals in the extinguisher spray.

Salt Lake City police are investigating the incident, according to the station.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.
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