Victims in Outback Attack Speak Out

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter


By Jill Kasparie

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Victims of an alleged attack at Outback Steakhouse say they are thankful to be alive.

“Everybody was running and screaming everywhere,” said Hallie Hanson. “It was the scariest event I've ever been a part of. People had full plates of food and just left. It was a traumatic event.”

Matthew Sanders, 29, is in jail where he faces assault charges after police say he injured three people. Court documents show the attack at the restaurant on First Avenue southeast was unprovoked. Witnesses reported that through it all Sanders yelled racially charged comments.

"It total chaos when this took place,” Chuck Hanson said.

Chuck Hanson said his family just sat down for dinner when Sanders approached the table. They said a man they'd never seen before suddenly attacked for no reason.

"I was sitting there at the table and a young gentleman walked by me and asked me how I was doing,” Chuck Hanson said.

"My dad replied ‘terrible’ because he'd been having a bad day, and all of the sudden the guy had like a gray trapper and he went and reached for something,” Hallie Hanson said.

"The next thing I know, I was getting punched in the back of the head and then my daughter, Hallie, was protecting me,” Chuck Hanson said.

"I just saw glass flying everywhere. At that point, he started punching him in the face and in the back of the head and I pulled my dad towards me because I thought he was trying to kill my father,” Hallie Hanson said.

Court documents show the man was using a glove with glass shards. The pair counted up the stab wounds estimating Chuck was stabbed at least five times and punched several times. Hallie also got a piece of glass in her arm. The family said they have no idea why Sanders attacked, but Chuck does remember Sanders shouting something through it all.

"He said 'call me the "n" word again', as he proceeded to keep hitting me in the back of the head,” Chuck Hanson said.

Chuck said he didn't know why he was screaming that.

One day after the scary ordeal, the family is hoping prosecutors will charge Sanders with more than assault. They call this a hate crime and said they'd like to see him charged with attempted murder

"He came with sharp glass and a work glove with the intentions of hurting somebody, and I was that somebody,” Chuck Hanson said.

Hallie and Chuck said they would undergo surgery on Tuesday because of that glass. Hallie said after Sanders attacked her dad, he threw a chair hitting a waitress who happened to be pregnant. She's the third victim in this attack.
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