Woman faces terrorism charges after coughing on groceries

A woman who intentionally coughed on almost $58,000 worth of food in a supermarket for a joke has been hit with terrorism charges.

The supermarket described the incident as a "very twisted prank" and local police have now charged the woman with felony terrorism threats, threatening to use a biological agent and criminal mischief over the coughing stunt.

The 35-year-old Pennsylvania woman visited the small Gerrity's Supermarket in the Hanover Township, Pennsylvania, in the US on Wednesday afternoon.

According to a post by the store's owner, the woman, "came in to the store and proceeded to purposely cough on our fresh produce, and a small section of our bakery, meat case and grocery".

The store's co-owner Joe Fasula said the woman is known by police to be a problem throughout their local community, according to the NY Post.

 

Staff at the supermarket discarded almost $58,000 worth of food after the incident. Picture: Gerrity’s Supermarket
Staff at the supermarket discarded almost $58,000 worth of food after the incident. Picture: Gerrity’s Supermarket

 

Authorities do not believe the woman is infected with COVID-19, but will "make every effort" to get her tested, Mr Fasula said.

"While there is little doubt this woman was doing it as a very twisted prank, we will not take any chances with the health and wellbeing of our customers. We had no choice but to throw out all product she came in contact with," Mr Fasula wrote.

They deployed 15 staff working in the store at the time to quickly discard everything she'd come into contact with and coughed on, throwing it out, before deep cleaning the store. The losses totalled "well over $US35,000 ($A57,800)".

The Hanover police department announced in a press release the woman, 35, has now been arrested and charged with felony counts of terrorist threats, threats to use a biological agent and criminal mischief. In addition to the felony charges, she's been charged with misdemeanour offences of criminal attempt to commit retail theft and disorderly conduct.

Her bail has been set at $US50,000 ($A82,600) and will face a preliminary hearing on April 8.

-with NY Post

Originally published as Woman charged for coughing in store

Staff cleaning the produce shelves. Picture: Gerrity’s Supermarket
Staff cleaning the produce shelves. Picture: Gerrity’s Supermarket

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