A Florida man is facing felony charges for allegedly pulling a gun on a fellow shopper over a dispute about face masks, ABC News reported. It’s the latest in a growing list of incidents in which arguments over face coverings have turned violent.
On Thursday, Vincent Scavetta, 28, was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm and improper exhibition of a firearm over the July 12 incident.
At the time, Scavetta and another individual, identified by The Palm Beach Post as 46-year-old Christopher Estrada, were at a Walmart location in Royal Palm Beach. Palm Beach County had a mask ordinance in place, though Walmart did not — the retailer has since begun requiring facial coverings in all of its U.S. stores.
Inside the store, Estrada told Scavetta to put a mask on his face. However, Scavetta instead began swearing at the older man. Images from a surveillance video, which can be seen here, showed the two men arguing as customers tried to break them up.
Scavetta reportedly reached towards his waistband — as if to gesture that he was prepared to pull a gun — to which Estrada replied that he didn’t care. The suspect then allegedly pulled out the weapon and pointed it at Estrada and said, “I’ll kill you.”
At that point, a group of customers had been attempting to intervene, and Scavetta left along with his father, who was with him. Estrada, who was with his daughter, called the police.
After his arrest, Scavetta purportedly told authorities that he had been wearing protective equipment at the time. He added that as he pushed his father in his wheelchair through the parking lot in the rain, his mask got wet, making it difficult for him to breathe and fogging his glasses.
Authorities also noted that Scavetta has an active concealed weapons license. Estrada said that he would be interested in not pursuing charges against his alleged assailant if he would surrender that license. Scavetta did not agree to that, and prosecutors decided to press criminal charges.
His bail has been set at $15,000.
Meanwhile, the list of incidents in which disputes over masks have turned violent continues to grow. Ever since municipalities and retailers started requiring or encouraging the facial coverings to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, these disputes have devolved into spitting, fisticuffs, and pepper-spraying, among other incidents. In one such example previously reported by The Inquisitr, a man was fatally shot by police after stabbing another person over a dispute about wearing masks.