A Missouri man was charged with making terrorist threats after police said he purposely coughed on dollar store food coolers and scrawled “COVID 19” in the condensation.
John Swaller, 33, was arrested Tuesday following the disturbing behavior at a Dollar Tree store in the town of Cuba. He was jailed in lieu of $25,000 bail, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Dollar Tree employees called police after customers began complaining Swaller was walking around the store and “continued to cough on the doors and into the air,” according to arrest documents obtained by The Smoking Gun. He also allegedly opened several cooler doors and breathed on them.
After opening one of the cooler doors, Swaller coughed on it and wrote “COVID 19” in the condensation, according to a police affidavit.
“At one point, Swaller then puts his right hand down his pants and wipes his hand down the door,” the document said.
Employees told police they asked Swaller to stop, but he kept coughing even as he left the store, according to the police affidavit.
Police said they did not know whether Swaller actually has COVID-19, but Dollar Tree took no chances. The store was closed so it could be deep cleaned, police said.
A man who said he was Swaller’s dad insisted to the Post-Dispatch that his son doesn’t have the coronavirus.
“He’s healthy as a horse,” the father told the paper, adding that the threat charge was “a big lie.”
If convicted, Swaller faces up to four years in prison, according to the New York Post, which noted that he has prior convictions for burglary, theft and stolen property. He was arrested in January on allegations of drug possession and resisting arrest.