Bay Area fast food manager to lose eye after being punched trying to defend special needs teen

The 19-year-old immediately went into surgery to try to save her right eye after being hit, but the operation was unsuccessful.

J.R. Stone Image
Thursday, November 17, 2022
Antioch fast food manager to lose an eye after assault
An employee of Antioch's Habit Burger Grill says she'll lose an eye due to a punch she took trying to stop a man from bullying a special needs teen.

ANTIOCH, Calif. -- Surveillance video shows an assistant manager at a fast food restaurant in Northern California being attacked last weekend as she tried to help a teen with special needs.

She will lose her right eye due to the punch she took.

Bianca Palomera, 19, immediately went into surgery to try and save her right eye after being hit while working at The Habit Burger Grill in Antioch, California, last Saturday.

"When he punched me, it kind of caught me by surprise," said Palomera.

Palomera is the assistant manager and noticed a man in a group bullying a special needs teenager who is related to a co-worker. She says her manager told her to tell him to leave.

"That's when I stepped in, I was like, 'Hey just to let you know it's not right what you're doing. They're special needs and it's not right what you're doing,'" Palomera said.

She says the man then came after her, the second punch he threw hit her in the eye.

"They kept asking me if he was wearing any rings because they didn't think that a normal punch could rupture an eye," Palomera said.

But the punch did -- and emergency surgery was unsuccessful in saving her right eye.

"I've gone ahead and made the decision that it would be best to get a prosthetic eye. It could potentially attack my good eye so it would be best to just have it removed," Palomera said.

MORE | Surveillance video shows man sucker-punch random stranger in Koreatown

A man suddenly and violently attacked another man on a busy street in Los Angeles's Koreatown. Also caught on camera? The bizarre thing the attacker did next.

"When my sister made the call and told me 'hey she's going to lose her eye, there's a big chance and she's going into emergency surgery,' that scared me," said Erica Palomera.

But the family is staying strong in hopes that police will catch the person who did this. Bianca says she was standing up for a friend - someone who didn't deserve to be bullied.

"Things may happen and not work out the way you want, at least I feel good that he wasn't harmed. I think it would have been a lot harder on him if he was the one that was attacked," said Bianca.

Our sister station ABC7 News in San Francisco reached out to The Habit Burger Grill and received the following statement:

"We were deeply saddened to learn of a violent incident that injured a team member," wrote Kathy Kwon, a spokesperson for The Habit Burger Grill. "We extend our full support to our team member as they recover, and we are fully assisting the authorities in their efforts to identify the suspected attackers."

Antioch police told ABC7 News that the case is actively being investigated.

"We are a bit limited in the information we will release at this time so as to not compromise the investigation," said a police spokesperson. Authorities said they have not yet made any arrests.

There is also surveillance video of the man in question entering and leaving the restaurant, but police have not said if they've been able to make contact with him.

It's unclear when Bianca will be able to work again. Because of that, her family has created a GoFundMe page that can be found here.

MORE | Pasadena restaurant workers subdue man with knife

Employees of a Pasadena restaurant jumped into action and tackled a man with a knife who was acting erratically and causing damage to businesses on the street.