A Missouri man was arrested and charged with making a terroristic threat after he allegedly coughed on the customers of a local business, breathed on merchandise and wrote “COVID” in the condensation inside of a cooler.
Thirty-three-year-old John Swaller from Cuba, Missouri, has been “formally charged with making a terroristic threat in the second degree, a felony in Missouri,” Police said in a statement.
An employee told authorities Tuesday that a male suspect, later identified as Swaller, purposefully coughed toward other customers in the store.
“The employee also stated that the same male had written ‘COVID’ on the inside of a cooler door with his fingers after breathing on it,” according to the police statement. “It was also alleged the male had placed his hands down his pants and then rubbed a cooler door handle.”
Swaller had left the store by the time police arrived but was later taken into custody.
The store, identified by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a Dollar Tree, was closed and sanitized.
Cuba Police Chief Doug Shelton told the Post-Dispatch that it is unclear if Swaller has been infected with coronavirus. Officers wore protective gear while transporting the suspect to jail.
“I feel that it worries a lot of the residents of Cuba,” Shelton said. “It has angered a lot of people.”
Swaller is currently being held at the Crawford County Jail on a $25,000 bond. He faces up to four years in prison or one year in jail and a fine up to $10,000 if convicted, according to the outlet.
He is the second Missouri man to be charged with making a terroristic threat related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Cody Lee Pfister was charged in Warren County after he allegedly made a video of himself licking items at a Walmart while asking, “Who’s scared of coronavirus?”
COVID-19 has infected as many as 1,581 people in the state, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.