No-mask attacks are seemingly sweeping the nation as face-mask mandates appear to bring out the worst in some people. Service industry workers, in particular, have taken the brunt of enforcement.
Now, in the wake of an attack in Pacific Beach, a bartender and his family are calling on lawmakers to increase the punishment for the assaults.
Video captured on Labor Day weekend show a patron charging at Tony Aversa, a bar manager at the 710 Beach Club, and punching him after Aversa said he asked a group of patrons to wear face masks.
"I blacked out for a second," Aversa said. "I knew my nose was broken. I immediately started gushing blood all over the pavement."
It's the latest incident in what seems to be a string of customers getting violent or angry at employees who have been tasked with enforcing COVID-19 related regulations ordered by government leaders to keep the community safe. Aversa said enforcing the rules is increasingly becoming more dangerous for him and his colleagues who work in the service industry.
“For us in the industry, I just kind of brace for the worst every day I go in, at this point,” Aversa said. "My job has turned more from a bartender to a rule enforcer, and as it seems, none of this is going to get any better any time soon.”
Aversa said he and his mother, Felice Aversa, are working to protect other essential workers.
"When it boils down, I'm Mama Bear," Aversa said. "It doesn't matter how old he is, how strong he is, how confident he is. It's really kind of hit me to the core."
The mother-son duo said they’re calling on lawmakers to introduce legislation that would add a penalty for assaulting a worker who is specifically enforcing the public health order. Illinois passed a similar law last month.
"These laws are going to be deterrents to people and make them think twice before they do something stupid," Felice said.
In Tony's case, San Diego police said the attacker could face a felony battery with up to four years in state prison if identified and caught.
“I’m mad that he was able to walk away," Tony said. "If he just thinks he can get away with it, what’s to stop him from doing it again?”.
San Diego police detectives are asking anyone with information about the attack to call them at 858-552-1700.
Aversa said he expects to have surgery for his broken nose and nasal cavity, and will be out of work, again. His family set up a GoFundMe page to help him with medical expenses and losses from the pandemic. So far, more than $13,000 of the $15,000 goad has been raised.