By Heather Janssen

KINGS BEACH (CBS13) – A man pulled down his mask to cough on a woman for not wearing one at a North Lake Tahoe grocery store, deputies confirmed. Many are calling the moment “just plain rude.”

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office is looking for that man, who is described as a white male in his 50s-60s, and about 6’4″. In surveillance video filmed last month, the PCSO says a man can be seen coughing on the woman before walking away and giving the woman the middle finger.

“He told her she needed to be wearing a mask because he didn’t want her to bring her sickness to his home,” Sgt. Michael Powers with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said.

The victim told law enforcement the man was too close for comfort and said the suspect was only inches away from her.

“She described it as the moisture from his breath hitting her face and her eyes,” Sgt. Powers said.

CBS13 showed the surveillance video to grocery shoppers who were shocked to see such a thing happen. Rusty Heckert said she wasn’t surprised by what she’s seen happen before.

READ: ‘Wear A Mask’ Campaign Launched In Response To California Coronavirus Surge

“This has just been going on all over the country,” Heckert said.

Around the country, videos have surfaced showing incidents where several people are believed to be coughing on others in some sort of retaliation. Some of these incidents involve people believed to be coughing on cops, bartenders, even mothers and their babies. Now, the “trend” has made its way to Tahoe.

“People are stressed. They’re angry,” Sgt. Powers said. “A lot of people are frightened, quite frankly.”

CBS13 wanted to know if someone can face charges for purposely coughing on someone? That answer is yes.

“Spitting on or coughing on someone is always considered under California law as assault and battery,” Sgt. Powers said.

Law enforcement said incidents like these can be avoided by turning away and leaving the situation if it happens. But if you feel threatened, they do say to call 911. At this point, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office says they’re looking for any possible leads on this suspect. If you know anything, you’re asked to give them a call.

Heather Janssen


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