This post has been updated.
The co-owner of Alibi Drinkery, who made headlines for refusing to shutter his bar in compliance with state COVID-19 restrictions, was charged Thursday with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct after allegedly smacking a Jimmy John’s manager in Rosemount after his companion was asked to wear a mask.
Ricardo M. Baldazo, 39, of Prior Lake was charged with two counts of fifth-degree assault and one count of disorderly conduct, according to Rosemount Police Chief Mikael Dahlstrom. He was not arrested but will instead receive a summons.
A video of the incident circulated on Facebook after the victim’s mother sought to identify the assailants. Baldazo and his bar co-owner Lisa Monet Zarza were quickly identified by internet sleuths.
Baldazo already faces two counts of first-degree attempted murder and two counts of fifth-degree assault for allegedly firing off numerous rounds at police from his mother’s Burnsville house on Sept. 2. Baldazo posted $750,000 bail on Sept. 11. One of the conditions of his release is that he remain law-abiding, and Dahlstrom said Dakota County officials have been notified of the new charges, which could result in his bail being revoked.
Video of the Jimmy John’s incident: pic.twitter.com/ZUifqsx0fJ
— Deena Winter (@deenafaywinter) February 5, 2021
Here’s what happened, according to Dahlstrom: Police were called to the Rosemount Jimmy John’s at 7:34 p.m. on Jan. 30 on a report that a customer hit the manager in the face because the manager told his companion to wear a mask.
A video of the incident showed a short woman with long, blond hair in the store without a mask talking to two employees, and then leaving. A man then arrives and gets into a confrontation with the worker and appears to smack the worker’s mask off.
The argument started over the woman not wearing a mask, Dahlstrom said, and eventually Baldazo reached across the cash register and struck the store manager. The dispatcher could hear the manager screaming in the background during the call, Dahlstrom said, and while police were en route, they were told the customers left in a white GMC Yukon.
Although Dahlstrom didn’t identify the woman in the video, Zarza posted on Facebook Saturday that the Jimmy John’s employee asked if she had a mask, and she told him she had a health condition that prevents her from wearing one. Zarza said the worker told her to leave. She responded that it was her constitutional right to be there, but he again told her to leave. She said she replied “F*** you” and turned to leave when the worker started using profanity and calling her names.
Former state Sen. Matt Little is a lawyer who represents the store manager, and said the manager never called Zarza those names; he merely asked her to leave after she started swearing. Little said his co-workers can confirm that “so she won’t be able to fabricate a story like this.”
“You have a guy just doing his job, asking someone to put a mask on as per the law,” Little said.
Baldazo and Zarza have been tangling with state authorities for refusing to abide by the governor’s restrictions on bars and restaurants — in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 — from Nov. 20 to Jan. 11. Alibi Drinkery was one of a handful of businesses that repeatedly reopened in defiance of the order, beginning in mid-December. Zarza has said she stood up to Walz because her bar couldn’t afford to shut down for two months.
The Minnesota Department of Health, Department of Public Safety, and attorney general have taken regulatory actions against the bar, including a cease-and-desist order, operating license suspension, liquor license suspension and two lawsuits.
A Dakota County district judge found the bar owners in contempt of court on Jan. 7 for violating a Dec. 31 injunction and ordered the bar to pay $3,000 every day it opened illegally. After that, the bar owners relented until bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen at half capacity on Jan. 11.
Alibi’s attorney, Mike Padden, has argued the bar took a huge financial hit and may not survive the pandemic shutdown.
“We’re not saying that COVID isn’t real, we’re not saying that, but the implications of everything involved with COVID are so much more than just what’s being reported,” Zarza said in December.
Zarza has said she’s running for lieutenant governor with Josh Swedlund, a Belle Plaine sewer service company owner, who announced his campaign on Jan. 1.