HENRY COUNTY, Tenn. (WZTV) -
UPDATE: A man charged with violation of the terrorism hoax act was sentenced on Tuesday.
Tyrin McCauley, 24, was sentenced to 120 days in jail and will be on probation for a total of three years after pleading guilty on Monday, a Henry County district attorney confirmed to FOX 17 News on Tuesday.
The Middle Tennessee man was arrested after a district attorney said he purposefully coughed on people inside a store while yelling that he had coronavirus in April.
A Middle Tennessee man has been arrested after a District Attorney says he purposefully coughed on people inside a store while yelling that he had coronavirus.
DA Matthew Stowe said in a news release that the man, whose name was not given, is charged with violation of the terrorism hoax act, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct.
It happened at a Walmart in Henry County on Monday. Stowe said the man purposefully coughed on people inside the store and yelled that he had coronavirus. As of Monday, there were five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Henry County and more than 3,800 in the state. The virus has also claimed the lives of 65 Tennesseans.
Stowe said since COVID-19 is such a deadly disease, it's classified as a biological warfare agent and purposefully spreading it is considered an act of terrorism, in this case, a Class C felony.
Stowe said while this might have been a joke to one person, it was a frightening threat to several others.
“During this emergency and quarantine, we will protect the general public by enforcing the Governor’s orders,” states District Attorney General Matthew Stowe. “Anyone who acts in a threatening manner will be arrested and charged. Anyone who refuses to adhere to law enforcement warnings runs the risk of being arrested and charged. This pandemic is not a joke, it is a serious matter and can be fatal to some people.”
Stowe said with the public emergency surrounding COVID-19, individuals who refuse to heed stay at home orders place the public in danger.
“We realize that these restrictions on movement places a hardship on citizens and small businesses,” states DA Stowe. “While it is understandable that folks want to continue to live their lives as normally as possible during this crisis, your individual decisions will have an impact on the safety of others. Please make every effort to maintain social distancing and other safe practices in public areas.”
Under Gov. Lee's stay at home order, travel is banned expect for non-essential activities like picking up groceries and non-essential businesses are closed.