The man seemed intoxicated and even went up to the employee in a "threatening manner and attempted to strike him twice."
At a time when people are putting their best efforts into socially distancing themselves and trying to protect themselves from catching the virus, a cruel man deliberately did something to put a child at risk.
The disturbing incident took place on Sunday night, August 2, at Ricky T's in Treasure Island in Florida where the 47-year-old man, identified as Jason Andrew Copenhaver from Redington Shores, gave the child a tough time because he was wearing a mask.
At around 9:30 pm, Jason went up to the child, whose name is undisclosed, and asked the boy if he was wearing a mask. The boy responded that he was and when Jason asked him to take the mask off, the child refused to do so, as reported by Tampa Bay Times.
Then, it was reported that Jason went ahead and grabbed the boy's hand, holding it tightly and moving closer to him. He inched closer to the boy's face and then said, "You now have coronavirus."
Florida man allegedly told child to remove mask, left spit on his face: "You now have coronavirus" https://t.co/SgNVLmgfmG— Newsweek (@Newsweek) August 4, 2020
Officers wrote, "Victim stated that (Copenhaver) was in such close proximity that spit particles from (Copenhaver’s) mouth landed in his face."
After the cold-hearted exchange that Jason had with the boy, he went over to the bar and was asked to sit down by the staff at the restaurant. The staff noticed that the man appeared to be intoxicated and was being unruly.
The police report also revealed that Jason was not wearing any shoes and he even tried to hit one of the employees. He went up to the employee in a "threatening manner and attempted to strike him twice," according to the arrest affidavit, as reported by FOX 13.
Eventually, the police were informed and the staff member, the one that Jason tried to hit, took "physical control" of him. The staff member managed to lead Jason outside and the insensitive man was held to the ground until the police arrived at the scene and took control of the situation.
When the police questioned Jason, he told them that he did not even know whether he was infected by the virus. Prior to the incident, Jason had never gotten tested for the virus. He was unnecessarily harassing the minor, who was merely following the rules of the restaurant at that time.
According to Newsweek, Ricky T's website stated that customers would have to wear masks in the restaurant to enjoy their service, as per the requirements laid down by the county.
"In order for us to be compliant with Pinellas County Ordinance 20-14 all of our guests must wear a mask for service, once seated and properly social distancing the mask may be removed to enjoy food, beverage, and good company," the website was quoted.
Although other news reports have not mentioned the child's age, Newsweek reported that the boy who was harassed was 16 years old. Following the incident, Jason was taken into police custody and charged with simple battery and disorderly conduct, the Treasure Island police revealed. Although he was arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail, he was let go after his bail was posted.
OMG! This horrible man needs to locked up. He is endangering a kid. OMG. We have to protect the kids. #WearADamnMask— Judith Davis (@Writerjudy) August 4, 2020
A number of people who read about the incident were outraged by what the man had done. On Facebook, the people who commented on the news included Elaine Horton, who said, "What a sleaze! I hope they throw the book at him. He had no right to so much as touch this child, much less possibly attack him with saliva... whether or not he has the virus is immaterial."
Dee Herfurth also wrote, "I could only imagine how traumatized this poor child is. Poor excuse of an adult, bullying a child. I am heartbroken."