The details surrounding Ben Carson’s story of being held at gunpoint in a Baltimore fried chicken chain restaurant while on a French fry run remain “hazy” because it happened decades ago, a Carson spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Carson was asked during a SiriusXM radio interview whether he’d ever been faced with gun violence. He recounted a time when he said an armed robber came into a Popeye’s restaurant and the famed neurosurgeon pointed the man toward an employee.
“I have had a gun held on me when I was in a Popeye’s,” Carson told XM host Karen Hunter. “Guy comes in, puts the gun in my ribs. And I just said, ‘I believe you want the guy behind the counter.’”
The gunman said “Oh, OK,’ and moved on,” Carson recounted.
Carson was following up on earlier remarks in the wake of a deadly mass shooting at an Oregon community college that he “would not just stand there and let him shoot me” in the same situation, and that the victims could have done more to fend off the gunman.
In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Carson said growing up in inner-city Detroit gave him “the sophistication” to know the gunman was only looking to rob the restaurant, not kill him.
Asked about the details of the incident, Armstrong Williams, the business manager for Carson’s campaign, later told CNN it happened at a Popeye’s at the corner of Broadway and Orleans streets in Baltimore sometime between 1980 and 1983, while Carson was a medical resident at Johns Hopkins.
Carson said he did not file a police report but thought a restaurant employee did in another SiriusXM interview.
“I can tell you categorically as a God-fearing Christian, it’s something that happened,” he said. “It’s not something I made up.”
Carson journeyed to the restaurant for French fries, Williams said.
But details about the incident remain thin, and Baltimore police said the story didn’t provide enough information to verify the incident or find a police report. Carson’s camp had earlier tried to kill questions about the incident, saying they would not discuss it further.
That changed on Wednesday, though. Asked about the incident during an interview on MSNBC, campaign spokeswoman Ying Ma said that implications the Republican presidential candidate lied about the incident were “completely outrageous.”
“A lot of the details are hazy because that incident did occur over 30 years ago,” Ma said. “I’m sure that a lot of even anchors here at MSNBC would have trouble remembering incidents from over 30 years ago.”
Watch the full clip from Carson’s spokeswoman: