New Jersey man arrested on terror charge over alleged supermarket cough incident
A New Jersey man has been arrested on a terror charge over an alleged supermarket cough incident during the coronavirus pandemic, NBC News reports.
George Falcone, 50, of Freehold, was charged on Tuesday by the New Jersey attorney general for allegedly coughing on a Wegmans supermarket employee on Sunday, and saying that he had coronavirus.
Per USA Today, the incident happened after he got into an argument with the female employee.
According to a news release cited by USA Today, the woman told Falcone at around 6PM on Sunday that he was standing too close to her, and an open display of prepared foods in the supermarket, and therefore not practicing the government's advice of social distancing.
As she covered the food, she asked the 50-year-old to step back. However, instead of complying, he stepped forward and deliberately coughed before saying that he had the coronavirus, the Attorney General's Office reported.
After the incident, Falcone was approached by Manalapan police detective, who was working a security detail at the store. He refused to provide his personal details or cooperate for 40 minutes, authorities said, but he eventually did, and was permitted to leave.
In the statement, Grewal said: "These are extremely difficult times in which all of us are called upon to be considerate of each other - not to engage in intimidation and spread fear, as alleged in this case."
"We must do everything we can to deter this type of conduct and any similar conduct that harms others during this emergency."
This news comes as a worrying number of people are flying in the face of governmental advice, either to deliberately terrorize others during the pandemic or as part of social media stunts like the "Coronavirus Challenge".
John Hopkins University reports that there have been a total of 441,187 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally and 19,784 deaths at the time of writing.