This story has been updated (see below).
Trumpet player Lorenzo Molina Ruiz for the country and Latin group The Mavericks, and his friend Orlando Morales were allegedly assaulted early Sunday morning, October 4th, at Tony’s Eat & Drink in Franklin, Tennessee. According to Ruiz and Morales, they were waiting in line to use the restroom, and were speaking with each other in Spanish when they were approached by two other men, who allegedly said, “Speak Fucking English. You’re in America.” The two men then allegedly assaulted both Ruiz and Morales, with both of them sustaining injuries and eventually ending up in Vanderbilt Hospital.
Lorenzo Molina Ruiz sustained only minor injuries. But his friend Orlando Morales suffered a broken nose, orbital bones, a concussion, and internal bleeding, according to the wife of The Mavericks front man, Betty Malo.
“We didn’t do anything to anybody and got beaten up badly. My friend is in bad shape,” Ruiz says in a Go Fund Me drive that has been posted for the two men.
According to Franklin Police, they did not learn of the incident until they were summoned to the Vanderbilt Emergency Room at 3:00 a.m. on October 4th where they learned the alleged assault occurred at Tony’s Eat & Drink, and launched an investigation.
“The case is currently classified as an aggravated assault, which is a felony. It has been assigned to a detective, and an investigation is under way,” says Franklin Police Department public information officer Lt. Charles Warner. “…this case clearly has our attention and we are committed to holding anyone who perpetrates a violent assault like this accountable. The victim’s injuries are serious, but not believed to be life-threatening.”
Betty Malo also alleges that Tony’s Eat & Drink did nothing about the incident, and kicked out Ruiz and Morales, while bouncers did not allow them to re-enter the establishment. This is when Ruiz and Morales went to the hospital. Betty Malo also believes the incident should be considered a hate crime, and says they’ve retained legal council in the matter, while calling Tony’s Eat & Drink “complicit” in the alleged assault.
Tony’s Eat & Drink released a statement on Tuesday, saying,
“We would like to send our deepest condolences to the individuals affected by the altercation that occurred. We want to be clear that we do not support racism or condone hate crimes at our establishment and are taking this matter seriously. We do not nor have we ever allowed for violence to perpetuate for any reason and in this specific instance, our security staff acted quickly and reasonably to bring the altercation to an end. Our patrons safety is extremely important to us and we work very hard to maintain a safe environment for everyone. We are an establishment that is open to the public and cannot know what may or may not be in a person’s heart and mind, but we do not condone bad actions.”
Two suspects caught on camera are being sought in the incident, one of which was wearing a black shirt and a gold chain, as well as a hat that fell off during the incident, along with another individual wearing a jacket with a stripe down the sleeves. A cash reward of up to $1,000 is available to anyone with information. People are being asked to call (615) 794-4000 with any information, or if they have further footage or photos of the two individuals in question.
Lorenzo Molina Ruiz is part of the Fabulous Five band that backs up the original members of The Mavericks. Along with playing trumpet, he also contributes percussion and backing vocals to the group. Though distinctly Latin in sound and influence and based out of southern Florida, The Mavericks have long-standing ties to country music, winning CMA and ACM Awards as a top vocal group in the mid 90’s. Their latest album En Español released in August is the band’s first entirely in Spanish.
“For this assault to occur as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with our own performance (featuring Lorenzo) tonight on the Hispanic Heritage Awards shows that although we’ve come a long way, we still have a long way to go,” The Mavericks front man Raul Malo said in a statement. “America is better than this.”
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UPDATE (10/7/2020 6:15 p.m. CDT): According to police, the two men sought in the assault came forward Tuesday night and are offering a different account about the incident. Investigators are saying they are referring the case to the District Attorney’s office to see if charges are applicable. More information when available.