Angry 25-year-old Coquitlam woman coughs on clerk and other acts of COVID-19 revenge

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      While the majority of people are following health guidelines to protect others from spreading COVID-19, angry individuals have been using coughing or sneezing to exact revenge or take their anger out on others.

      A grocery store employee called RCMP to a store in the 1400 block of Parkway Boulevard in Coquitlam around 1:45 p.m. on April 13.

      The employee alleged that an irate customer had become angry when a store clerk wouldn’t allow her to purchase more than the store’s maximum amount of tissue paper. She then intentionally coughed on the clerk.

      RCMP later arrested the 25-year-old customer, who doesn’t have a significant history with police, at her home. She was released and is scheduled to appear in court on July 13.

      Coquitlam RCMP Cpl. Michael McLaughlin stated in a news release that deliberate coughing on police, hospital workers, or clerks, or other forms of abuse or assaults against essential workers, won’t be tolerated.

      Another coughing incident also took place in Coquitlam earlier this month.

      When Coquitlam RCMP arrested 24-year-old Tyson Helgason on April 6 after a break-in attempt at a residence in the 2500 block of Ashurst Avenue, while an elderly couple was at home.

      After being asked by police about his health, he claimed that he was sick.

      Although he was instructed not to face police, he allegedly turned his head towards three officers and coughed in their faces.

      Consequently, he was charged for assaulting a police officer in addition to break and enter and theft under $5,000. He will next appear in provincial court in Surrey on April 22.

      On April 10, a man was videotaped spitting on elevator buttons in a Vancouver apartment building, sparking outrage on social media.

      The man issued an apology through his lawyer on April 12. He explained that his actions were a result of his anger from a dispute with his strata council, and that he is making a donation to cover the costs of sanitation as well as seeking counselling.

      On April 7, a cyclist allegedly spat on a Kelowna mother walking with her 14-month-old daughter in a stroller along Okanagan Lake without any prior interaction. She reported the incident to RCMP.

      Stateside, a woman intentionally coughed on food at a grocery store in Pennsylvania on March 25 and was later arrested and charged.

      As a safety precaution, the store threw out all food that her coughing had come into contact with, which amounted to approximately $35,000 worth of items.

      Vancouver lawyer Sarah Leamon wrote in a commentary for the Georgia Straight that coughing or spitting on someone without consent is considered assault under the Criminal Code. She added that doing so with the intention to spread the virus could lead to a charge of aggravated assault.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.