A man is now facing terror charges after he allegedly coughed on a Wegman’s employee in Manalapan, authorities say. The man claimed he had the coronavirus.
50-year-old George Falcone of Freehold Township has been charged with harassment, making terroristic threats and obstruction. He refused to identify himself, spending 40 minutes being interrogated by the police after the incident.
On Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said during a news conference that Falcone had an altercation with a female store employee. Falcone coughed in her face and told her he had coronavirus.
It was 6:30 pm on Sunday when the incident happened, according to the employee. She had told Falcone that he was standing too close to her and asked him to step back from the open display of prepared foods she was trying to cover.
That’s when Falcone allegedly stepped within three feet of her, leaning over to “purposely cough,” then laughed and said he was infected with the coronavirus.
A police detective who was working a security detail at the store approached the man, and Falcone spent 40 minutes refusing to identify himself or provide a driver’s license. When he eventually identified himself, he was allowed to leave the store.
After leaving the store, summonses were soon issued against Falcone. The Division of Criminal Justice within the Attorney General’s Office will prosecute the case.
A statement by Attorney General 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 vow to respond swiftly and strongly whenever someone commits a criminal offense that uses the coronavirus to generate panic or discord.”
In a statement by Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Grammiccioni, he said, “Exploiting people’s fears and creating panic during a pandemic emergency is reprehensible. In times like these, we need to find ways to pull together as a community instead of committing acts that further divide us.”
This incident follows an announcement by Murphy that there are 846 new presumptive cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey. This raises the statewide total to 44 deaths and 3,675 cases overall.