NEVADA CITY, Calif. (KTXL) — Police are looking into two separate reports of people intentionally coughing on others in the Nevada County area.
In both cases, investigators say those involved were angry over being told to wear a mask.
One of the victims, Shannon Snow, says she only leaves home for the essentials.
“Because of this COVID virus, we know it is serious and deadly,” Snow told FOX40.
A routine trip to get groceries at BriarPatch in Grass Valley ended in fear on July 14.
“There was a man a woman with their masks around their necks ,” Snow recounted. “And, I said, ‘Please, would you wear your masks in the store?’ And they started yelling at me, ‘You’re just a sheeple. I can’t breathe in a mask.’”
She says the two eventually pulled their masks up since it’s required in the store.
Snow thought that was the end of it. She paid for her groceries and walked out to her car but as she reached her car something happened.
“There was the man. Then he started shouting at me and leaning in and coughing toward me,” Snow said. “Very scary. I got very afraid. He purposefully coughed on me to either frighten me or infect with a deadly disease.”
She reported the incident to the Grass Valley Police Department, who are now investigating.
They say if he is identified and they can prove he intentionally coughed on her, the man could face misdemeanor assault charges.
“If it’s an offensive conduct that puts you in reasonable fear of harm, that’s an assault,” criminal defense attorney Mark Reichel explained.
He says if the person responsible knew they had COVID-19 the charges could be more serious.
“If it can be proven somehow that they got it from that person, that they got it from that exposure and they die, the question is do we have a murder case on our hands?” Reichel said.
Snow says she got tested for the virus and thankfully it turned up negative.
But she’s hoping police can find the person responsible, so they can stop anyone else from having to experience this kind of terror.
“This felt like an assault. This felt like he was trying to kill me with something invisible,” Snow said.
The other reported cough assault happened in downtown Nevada City, according to police.
Investigators say they have not been able to identify any suspects in either case.