The authorities are searching for a man who they say fatally stabbed another man in an altercation while waiting for Popeyes’ new chicken sandwich in Maryland on Monday night.
The violence struck a startling contrast with the excitement around the chain’s much-hyped sandwich, which has led to long lines around the country, hiccups in availability and a flurry of memes, as well as a marketing battle between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A.
“This one is extremely difficult to put into words,” Jennifer Donelan, a spokeswoman for the Prince George’s County Police Department, said at a news conference Monday night. “When we lose a life in our county, it is devastating.”
The stabbing occurred in Prince George’s County, Md., about nine miles south of Capitol Hill in Washington.
Around 7 p.m., the police responded to a call of a fight between two men inside a Popeyes restaurant, Ms. Donelan said, adding that the argument spilled out onto the street, where one man stabbed the other.
The 28-year-old man who was stabbed was rushed to a hospital, where he died from his injuries, she said. His identity was not given.
“We have been able to determine that, preliminarily, that this is related to the release of the sandwich,” Ms. Donelan said, adding that the man had been in line to buy the sandwich.
Someone “cut in front of the other,” she said.
The authorities have asked anyone who was inside the restaurant at the time of the fight to contact the police if they have any information. The police have also urged the man who carried out the stabbing to come forward.
“For you to get that angry over anything, for that type of anger to develop into this type of violence, again is a very sad and tragic day,” Ms. Donelan said. “And that person needs to turn themselves in.”
“We are very sad to hear about the tragedy in Maryland tonight,” a spokeswoman for Popeyes said in a statement on Tuesday. “We do not yet know whether this was the result of a dispute over one of our products or something unrelated, but there is no reason for someone to lose their life on a Monday night in a parking lot. Our thoughts are with the victim’s family and friends and we are fully cooperating with local authorities.”
The chicken sandwich craze hit in August and quickly drew long lines around the country. The popularity of the sandwich also prompted a debate on social media about whether Chick-fil-A or Popeyes had the best version of it.
However, the sandwich blitz hit a snag when Popeyes said it could no longer keep up with the demand and it went on hiatus.
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