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Sheriff's office investigating alleged Taco Bell tampering after Arapahoe County authorities say rat poison found in customer's food

Man hospitalized after ingesting rat poison in Taco Bell burrito
Man hospitalized after ingesting rat poison in Taco Bell burrito 02:18

The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office says it has an "open and active investigation" into how rat poison ended up in a to-go food order of a man who bought burritos Sunday afternoon from a Taco Bell restaurant at 16776 East Smoky Hill Road in Centennial.

"Right now what we're looking at is if the rat poison was actually put into his food at the restaurant. We don't know if it was at this point in time," Deputy John Bartmann with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office told CBS News Colorado.

Bartmann went on to say the case is categorized as "criminal attempt homicide." Bartmann and the restaurant manager, Lary Swift, both told CBS News Colorado that a male customer came into the restaurant around 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon and argued with restaurant workers about his food order.


Swift said the man was upset that the restaurant's drink station was not working and "wanted something free." Swift said the man argued with employees and other restaurant customers. She said the man is a regular patron who has caused problems before. On one occasion, she said he threw a taco at an employee.

Swift said he ordered three bean burritos and was given a fourth burrito at no cost.

Bartmann said at about 7 p.m., the man ate the restaurant food and "became violently ill" and called 911. He was transported to an area hospital.

"That hospital said they had a patient who has possibly consumed rat poison in his food from the same restaurant," said Bartmann.

Bartmann declined to release the man's identity but said enough rat poison was found in the burritos that "it would have been very serious to our victim's health."


Sunday evening, deputies closed the restaurant down. Swift said police came back saying, "we poisoned somebody. We don't carry poison in the restaurant," she said. "We didn't do anything like that. It didn't even add up. It's ridiculous."

Swift said the restaurant turned over surveillance video to Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office investigators and the sheriff's office said they were reviewing the video as well as other evidence they had collected.

CBS News Colorado contacted Taco Bell's corporate communications via email and received the following response: "The safety of customers and team members is a priority. The franchisee who owns and operates this location has informed us that they are working with local authorities in their investigation."

UPDATES: Man who fell severely ill by Taco Bell repeatedly files lawsuits | Sheriff says no evidence Taco Bell employees poisoned food

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