Clerk nearly killed over theft of $4 tip jar

RENTON, Wash. -- Thieves stole a restaurant tip jar and are suspected of coming back two weeks later and doing it again. The second incident took a violent turn and a worker was nearly killed trying to get the jar --with $4 in it -- back.

Restaurant owner Moussa Elmoussa is always greeting customers with a smile, but on Friday he had a grim story to share.

"People run after them and they run somebody over," Elmoussa told some customers.

They reacted, "Oh, Is that person okay?"

Elmoussa said the employee is now in the hospital.

That's how it ended. This is how it all started: Two weeks ago a couple came into the Gyro House Mediteranean Grill at The Landing in Renton. Instead of taking the glass tip jar right then, surveillance video showed they ordered dinner and sat down and ate.

Roughly 15 minutes later, after paying their $16 tab, the woman is seen grabbing the tip jar next to the cash register and running out the front door while the cashier was away.

Mall security was alerted, but restaurant workers didn't think anything of the loss of $40 in tips. However, when it happened a second time by who they believe is the same woman Thursday afternoon, they gave chase.

And just out of camera range they say one of the restaurant workers nearly lost his life.

"The cook was outside tried to stop them," said Elmoussa. "He was running there and they run him over."

Waitress Martha Segovia witness the theft and feared the worse.

"I thought he died because he closed his eyes and that's what I thought," she said. "And I was just in shock."

Other witnesses saw what happened in the parking lot and trailed the suspected thief's car to a car wash. Police later arrested 32-year-old Ronald Bramlett, Jr of Bellevue. He appeared before a judge and ordered held on $50,000 bail accused of assault. The female hasn't been found yet.

The restaurant owner can't believe all this happened over just $4 in the tip jar.

"For four bucks you ruin your life," said Elmoussa. "You ruin somebody's life. It's not good.."

The tip jar is now kept behind the counter well out of reach of customers.