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Man lights Fla. Golden Corral worker on fire

Woman airlifted to UF Health Gainesville; man taken into custody

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 58-year-old man doused a Golden Corral worker with flammable liquid and lit her on fire, early Wednesday evening, at the restaurant on the city's Westside, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said. 

Officers were called about 5 p.m. to the Golden Corral restaurant on Memorial Park Road, just off Normandy Boulevard. 

The woman, in her mid-50s, was airlifted to the UF Health Shands Hospital Burn Unit in Gainesville.

JSO Sgt. Jay Farhat said the man, Darryl Tyrone Whipple, 58, was an acquaintance of the woman, stayed at the scene and was easily taken in custody. He was charged with attempted murder, battery and criminal mischief or interruption of a business according to the Sheriff's Office. 

Police said the man walked in the restaurant, went behind the counter where the woman was working, doused her with lighter fluid and set her on fire. The whole incident was recorded by a surveillance camera.

"Watching it on video is pretty graphic. It was worse than what we expected. Based on what we're seeing, we're charging him," Farhat said. 

Investigators said they're still trying to figure out Whipple's connection to the woman and why the man attacked the woman. Police said he does have a history of domestic issues.

A spokesperson for the Golden Corral franchise released the following statement Wednesday night: 

"An employee at our Memorial Park road location in Jacksonville, Florida was tragically attacked today by an individual known to the employee and not affiliated with our company. We are cooperating fully with the authorities regarding their investigation into this matter. Our thoughts and prayers are with the employee and her family at this time."

The restaurant was packed when the attack happened and many people ran off. Police said they need to interview witnesses, so anyone who was there at the time is asked to call police at 904-630-0500.