A Missouri man has been charged with making a terrorist threat after he allegedly posted a viral video showing himself licking items inside a Walmart store amid concern over the spread of the coronavirus.
As the Riverfront Times reported, 26-year-old Cody Pfister was arrested by police this week after the video filmed inside a Walmart store in Warrenton attracted worldwide attention. The video, reportedly filmed on March 11, showed a man licking several items and taunting people who were afraid of the spread of the deadly virus.
“Who’s afraid of the coronavirus?” the man said in the video posted to social media.
As the report noted, police in Warrenton received tips from as far away as Ireland and the Netherlands about the man, and officials were able to track down and take Pfister into custody this week.
As Politico noted, the federal government is taking swift action against people who knowingly spread the virus. On Tuesday, the Department of Justice said anyone who carries out the “purposeful exposure and infection of others with COVID-19” would face federal terrorism charges.
“Because Coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a ‘biological agent’… such acts potentially could implicate the Nation’s terrorism-related statutes,” wrote Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in a memo. “Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated.”
As the report noted, the Justice Department has been using its power to protect those affected by the coronavirus, including threatening to prosecute cases of those hoarding necessary supplies for the purposes of price gouging.
The Walmart incident came after a series of videos from last year showing people licking items inside stores and posting evidence of it. As The Inquisitr reported, a Texas man who made a video of himself licking a tub of Blue Bell ice cream was sentenced this month to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay restitution.
D’Adrien L’Quinn Anderson later claimed that he bought the tub of ice cream in the video, but the footage led the company to purge the store of its product, costing more than $1,500.
Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham noted that Anderson pulled the stunt after other viral videos showing people licking items in stores.
“He is just a copycat. And the way to stop copycats is to enforce it very strongly,” Wortham said, via CNN.
In Missouri, Pfister faces a felony charge of making a terrorist threat. He was being held in the Warren County jail without bond.