A Fort Worth man was arrested Monday after spitting and coughing on a woman at a laundromat while claiming to have the coronavirus.
Fort Worth, Texas, police released a statement Tuesday explaining the arrest:
On Monday, 04/06/2020, the Fort Worth Police Department was called to the 5800 block of South Hulen Street at a local laundromat in reference to a suspect intentionally coughing on people and claiming to have COVID-19. The victim confronted the suspect, who was sleeping on the property, and asked him to leave. The suspect became irate and coughed in the victim’s face while stating that he had COVID-19. The victim said that the suspect then spat in her face and began attempting to cough on others before fleeing on foot.
Officers located the suspect, Jeffrey Smith, nearby and placed him in custody; he was transported to a local hospital as a precaution. He is charged with Terroristic Threat, which is a class B misdemeanor. The seriousness of the current COVID-19 crisis cannot be understated and any threat of using the virus, whether infected or not, will be vigorously investigated and appropriate law enforcement action will be taken.
The New York Post reported that Smith was still in custody at the Tarrant County Correction Center as of Wednesday in lieu of $1,500 bond. The news outlet said it was unclear if Smith had hired an attorney yet.
“Reached for comment early Wednesday, a Fort Worth police spokesman declined to indicate whether Smith had been tested for the coronavirus, saying the department could not share any medical information,” the Post reported.
Smith is not the first person to allegedly use the coronavirus as a threat. Late last month, The Daily Wire’s Amanda Prestigiacomo reported that Cody Lee Pfister, 26, was arrested for making a terrorist threat when he filmed himself licking deodorant sticks at a Missouri Walmart, asking viewers, “Who’s scared of coronavirus?”
“Pfister ‘knowingly caused a false belief or fear that a condition involving danger to life existed,’ court documents state, adding that he acted ‘with reckless disregard of the risk causing the evacuation, quarantine or closure of any portion’ of Walmart,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported at the time.
Pfister had previously pleaded guilty to burglary and theft of a firearm in 2013 and a charge of disorderly conduct in 2016. In 2018, he pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and then violated his probation.
Earlier, a social media influencer known as “Larz” filmed himself licking a public toilet bowl and then said he tested positive for coronavirus, posting a photo of himself in a hospital bed. Another man is facing charges after claiming he had the coronavirus and coughing on a Wegmans employee in New Jersey.
Most recently, The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra reported, a Mexican government health official, Dr. Daniel López Regalado, visited a hospital in Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca and tested positive for the coronavirus. He reportedly acted callously toward hospital staff for not giving him preferential treatment and apparently coughed and spit on them. Regalado has reportedly been fired and charged with risk of infection.