WEST PALM BEACH, FL - JULY 23, 2020 - According to an online news report on PalmBeachPost.com, a Lake Worth man is facing felony gun charges after he allegedly drew his firearm and pointed it at another shopper when the two argued over the wearing of a face mask. The situation is one of the many reports of arguments over the legal right to not wear a face-covering while in public. The Lake Worth man, a 28-year-old, was arrested on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, once he turned himself into the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, according to the Sheriff’s Office officials. The man is charged with improper exhibition of a firearm and aggravated assault with a firearm. The Walmart store had captured the assault on video, and the July 12 video shows the defendant arguing with a man. The men were arguing inside the electronics department of the Royal Palm Beach Walmart. The Royal Palm Beach Walmart is located on the southeast section of State Road 7 and Belvedere. The video shows the defendant pulling out his pistol and waving the gun at the other Walmart shopper.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office officials decided to share the Walmart surveillance video and images of the defendant to obtain help from the public in identifying the defendant. The story quickly went viral because of the sensitive nature of the mask-wearing debate. According to the arrest report, the defendant stated to investigators that his mask was wet since it was raining the day of the incident and he was he removed his mask because the mask was drenched making it hard for him to breathe and he could not see because his glasses were fogging up.
The victim, a 46-year-old man from West Palm Beach, stated told Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office deputies that he and his daughter were shopping in the Walmart store, and he told the defendant that he should cover his face due to the coronavirus. The victim stated that the defendant cursed at him, and the two men argued for a few minutes. Customers attempted to stop the argument. That is when the defendant allegedly pulled a pistol from his waistband. The victim then told the defendant that he was not worried about the pistol. The entire situation was recorded in the video that went viral. Then the defendant allegedly pointed the gun at the victim and told the victim, “I’ll kill you,” police stated. As other Walmart shoppers approached the men, the defendant, and the victim w
Other shoppers stepped in, and both men walked away, according to the report. The defendant left the Walmart store immediately after the confrontation, while the victim remained inside the store and contacted the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. The news report states that the defendant has a license to conceal-carry the pistol.
After the incident, the Walmart store declared that all employees and shoppers would be required to wear a face-covering that covers both their mouths and noses.