A woman who witnessed and recorded one of two videos of a racist tirade at a Lethbridge, Alta. restaurant says she was shocked by what she saw and heard.
Tiana Bonare said she was at the Lethbridge Denny’s at around 1 a.m. on April 21 when she heard arguing between people at two other tables.
The Lethbridge resident said she didn’t think the incident was serious until she began hearing vulgar and racist comments coming from the woman at the centre of the video, who has now been identified as Kelly Pocha of Cranbrook, B.C.
“We started hearing some key words popping out like Muslim, Canadian woman — swear words,” Bonare told Global News on Thursday.
“We’re turning around, watching, and this woman just starts screaming at the top of her lungs,” she said.
“‘I’m a real Canadian woman. I’m not one of your Syrian b***hes,’ and stuff like that.”
WATCH: A video posted to Facebook shows patrons at a Lethbridge restaurant responding to a customer yelling racist comments at a group of men.
In a separate video — which has since gone viral — recorded by one of the men who was a target of Pocha’s verbal onslaught, she can be heard saying they’re “dealing with a Canadian woman right now and I will leap across this table and punch you right in your f***king mouth.”
As the video continues, Pocha says, “Go back to your f***king country” and “You’re not Canadian,” after one of the men is heard saying, “We’re all Canadian.”
Pocha has said she got angry because she believes the group of men began glaring at her and making fun of her while speaking another language.
“It started with a look,” Pocha said. “I turned around and I looked at the one gentleman and he was staring at me and I said, ‘Is there a problem?’ And he said, ‘No, no problem.'”
But Bonare said that isn’t what she witnessed.
“She was sitting with the back of her head facing them, so she would have to be glaring over her shoulder to even see them looking at her, and they were speaking in their own language so she couldn’t understand what they were saying anyway.”
Monir Omerzai and Mujtab Abdul Gahafar said they were having a casual conversation in a different language, primarily about a video game they were playing earlier in the evening, before the altercation with Pocha began.
The two men said the incident started after one of them noticed Pocha glaring at them.
“She started going off. She just started calling us names, that we’re from Syria, we’re from this country, we’re from that country,” Omerzai said.
“As a human being, we should never be treated like that and I was never expecting that sort of experience from a grownup lady.”
Bonare began recording the incident after she believed Pocha could get physically violent. Video shows Pocha standing up in her booth and leaning over her seat as she continued her tirade and while her husband attempted to hold her back.
Towards the end of her video, Bonare said she’s the woman who can be heard saying, “B***, he belongs in Canada just as much as you. Shut the f*** up.'”
“It got worse, then the racial slurs started coming out, and then when it actually started getting physical, I was like, “Holy c**p.’ I’ve never seen anything like this before anywhere,” Bonare said.
“I just got mad because she’s saying all these things, like ‘real Canadian women’ and ‘Canada doesn’t want you here’ and stuff like that, and it just made me mad.”
Bonare said the group of men were asked to leave the restaurant by a Denny’s manager while Pocha and her husband were asked to sit in a different area of the establishment. Bonare said police arrived and questioned the couple before asking them to leave as well.
Police have said officers asked both groups to leave.
On Thursday, Lethbridge police said they were still speaking with several people involved in the incident after recently being made aware of video posted of the altercation on social media.
“Police have now been able to speak with several people involved in the event and further interviews have been arranged for later today,” they said in a news release. “Police have also reviewed the surveillance video from Denny’s which confirms officers did not escort any of the involved parties out of the restaurant as has been falsely stated on social media.”
WATCH: Hate speech or freedom of speech? University of Calgary professor clarifies why it’s hard to prove.
On Wednesday afternoon, Pocha’s employer — Cranbrook Dodge — posted on its Facebook page the “employee in question has been terminated.”
“We have recently become aware of a disturbing video that involves one of our employees,” dealership owner Dave Girling said in the post. “We are deeply concerned about the content of this video and want all of our friends, families, colleagues, and customers to know that this behaviour does not reflect the values of Cranbrook Dodge in any way.
“We strive to be a welcoming and inclusive company with no room for hate or intolerance.”
When contacted by Global News, Girling declined to comment further except to say “it’s just the right thing to do.”