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Co-workers fight about lunch break at 99 Cents Only store, witness says

HOUSTON – A day of shopping at a store in north Houston looked more like an episode of "Jerry Springer" after a beef between two co-workers boiled over at the 99 Cents Only location at the North Freeway and Parker.

The fight was recorded by customer Leonardo Balderas, who had taken his mother there to shop.

"I always thought it only happened on Black Friday sales. Not just at a regular store, middle of the day," Balderas said. "Ninety-nine-cent stores -- I've seen it on YouTube, Facebook also. But I never witnessed it firsthand."

What he says he witnessed Thursday afternoon was two employees arguing over who was going to go to lunch first.

"Heated conversation," recalls Balderas. "I believe there was a manager there that told them, 'Don't go. Just play off your shift."

But Leonardo says that's when the situation between the two clerks escalated.

"About a few seconds later you heard the other lady, the black elder lady, tell her, 'You're a b-word,'" Balderas said. "And the other tell her, 'I'm gonna show you a b.' And she just ran across and that's when I started filming."

[WATCH: 99 cent store fight caught on camera]

In the video you see the two women punching and pulling each other’s hair. One grabs some type of canister off the checkout counter conveyor belt and begins hitting the other in the face.

The first person to step in to try to break up the fight is not a manager or even a fellow worker, but a customer.

And then a woman holding a newborn baby comes in -- but she can't stop the melee.

When she steps aside, a co-worker finally appears to help the original customer end the fight.

As a past manager in retail himself, Balderas says he posted the video to Facebook and spoke to Channel 2 because he believes the fight wasn't just a display of anger.

It was also poor customer service.

"Everybody viewing that video. Even if it's just store owners, that they just look at that video, dissect it," Balderas said. "And that's what happens when there are two individuals, employees that are heated, that are arguing. It can be prevented. Don't let it escalate to what happened on that video."

Channel 2 reached out to the corporate office for 99 Cents Only Stores in Southern California, but we were told that they are not allowed to talk to the media about this incident and cannot confirm any of the details.

The video of the fight has been viewed more than 162,000 times and shared nearly 3,000 times.


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