Tensions Over Masks, Social Distancing Lead To Violent Altercations, Shooting Death, Pipe Bomb Threats
In isolated cases, heated debates over masks and social distancing turned violent--and even fatal--in recent days as tensions escalate across the country.
Los Angeles Times:
As States Reopen, Some People Reject Coronavirus Masks
In the bustling college town of Stillwater, Okla., residents are allowed to visit restaurants and retailers — freedoms that most of the country does not currently enjoy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet when the city issued an emergency proclamation Friday that required citizens to wear face coverings, store employees were “threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse,” according to a statement released by the city. In response, Stillwater quickly amended its wording to only “encourage” use of masks. (McCollough, 5/4)
The Washington Post:
Police Investigate Shooting Over A Face Mask In Michigan Store
A Family Dollar store security guard was fatally shot in Flint, Mich., on Friday after telling a customer her child had to wear a face mask to enter the store, the prosecutor’s office said. The argument began when the security guard, Calvin Munerlyn, 43, told Sharmel Lashe Teague, 45, that customers needed to wear face masks in the store, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said at a news conference Monday. She yelled at him, spit on him and drove off, Leyton said. About 20 minutes later, her car returned to the store, and her husband and her son, Larry Edward Teague, 44, and Ramonyea Travon Bishop, 23, stepped out and confronted Munerlyn, according to investigators who spoke to witnesses in the store and reviewed surveillance video. Bishop pulled out a gun and shot Munerlyn, Leyton said. (Kornfield, 5/4)
Three Family Members Charged In Shooting Death Of Security Guard Who Told A Customer To Put On A Face Mask
"From all indications, Mr. Munerlyn was simply doing his job in upholding the Governor's Executive Order related to the COVID-19 pandemic for the safety of store employees and customers," Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said in the statement. Munerlyn got into a verbal altercation with Sharmel Teague after telling Teague's daughter she needed a mask, according to the prosecutor's office. Surveillance video confirms the incident, Leyton said. Sharmel Teague's daughter left the store, but "Teague began yelling at Munerlyn who then told her to leave the store and instructed a cashier not to serve her," the prosecutor's office said. (Snyder, Alsharif and Waldrop, 5/4)
Projected Death Toll Spikes As Americans Protest Social Distancing Restrictions
But there's dramatic evidence of rising tension after weeks of restrictions to halt the virus' spread — including a Colorado man planning to attend a protest of "stay at home" orders who was arrested after police found pipe bombs at his home. Authorities said the pipe bombs were found inside the home of 53-year-old Bradley Bunn, who was arrested by the FBI on Friday. Sources told CBS News that Bunn encouraged demonstrators to bring firearms to a May Day protest. (Shamlian, 5/4)
The Associated Press:
Background Checks For Firearms Remain High Amid Pandemic
The number of April background checks to purchase a firearm showed Americans flocking to gun stores in high numbers for the second month in a row amid worries about the coronavirus pandemic. The FBI numbers were released Monday with anticipation since March smashed previous records with 3.7 million checks conducted. While the numbers leveled off a bit to about 2.9 million checks for last month, one week — April 13-19 — is now among the top 10 highest weeks since the system was tracked in November 1998. That week in April alone, the FBI conducted 766,739 checks. (Pane, 5/5)
The Washington Post:
In San Diego County, Man Wore A Ku Klux Klan Hood As Coronavirus Face Covering At Grocery
Photos of a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood while shopping Saturday prompted a harsh rebuke from local leaders in San Diego County, and police now say they’re looking into the unsettling imagery. The incident took place one day after health officials in the county ordered residents to wear face coverings in public to stymie the spread of covid-19. (Brice-Saddler, 5/4)
GOP Ohio State Lawmaker Refuses To Wear Face Mask Because Faces Are The 'Likeness Of God'
A Republican Ohio state representative cited his religious beliefs to explain why he would not wear a mask as recommended by Gov. Mike DeWine (R) to help limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. “This is not the entire world,” state Rep. Nino Vitale wrote in a lengthy Facebook post on Monday morning. “This is the greatest nation on earth founded on Judeo-Christian Principles.” (Folley, 5/4)
Man Allegedly Pushed Austin Park Ranger Enforcing Social Distancing Into A Lake
Austin police have arrested a man who allegedly pushed a park ranger into a lake. The incident occurred on Thursday at Commons Ford, a public park that is home to Lake Austin, and was captured on a video posted on social media. In the video, a park ranger is seen standing near the lake's edge telling a crowd of people to stand six feet apart when a man pushes the ranger into the water and falls in himself. (Ghebremedhin, Parrish and Deliso, 5/4)
How To Make A Mask Ahead Of Wednesday’s Face Covering Mandate In Mass.
Starting Wednesday, anyone in Massachusetts who is out in public and can’t safely distance themselves from others will be required to wear a face covering to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. People who do not comply could be fined up to $300. (Reiss, 5/4)