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‘Who’s scared of coronavirus?’ MO man arrested, charged with terrorist threat for licking Walmart merchandise

Police handcuff suspect. (MaxPixel/Released)
March 26, 2020

A Missouri man was arrested and charged with a felony after police say he posted a video of himself licking merchandise at Walmart and making a “coronavirus statement.”

Cody Pfister was arrested on Monday in Warrenton, Missouri, and charged with making a second-degree terrorist threat, according to the Warrenton Police Department. USA TODAY requested an incident report for Pfister’s arrest, but Warrenton Police Department Lt. Justin Unger said the report wasn’t available as of Wednesday evening.

Unger did confirm Pfister’s arrest and said the incident was initially reported March 11. All of the items involved in the incident were removed the day the incident was reported, Unger said in an email.

The video shows Pfister in an aisle near what appears to be deodorant. He asks the camera, “Who’s scared of coronavirus?” before sticking his tongue out and licking several pieces of merchandise.

The video “gained some international attention and we have received numerous reports about the video from locals, nearby residents, as well as people from the Netherlands, Ireland, and the United Kingdom,” the Warrenton Police Department said in a Facebook post.

According to court documents, Pfister, 26, “knowingly caused a false belief or fear that a condition involving danger to life existed,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The newspaper reported a court date was scheduled for Wednesday.

USA TODAY has requested documents related to the case from the Warren County prosecuting attorney’s office.

People tampering with merchandise at stores for social media videos has become something of a disturbing trend. Police on Monday identified but didn’t charge two minors who recorded themselves coughing near patrons and produce at a Harris Teeter grocery store in Virginia.

In 2019, a video of a teen who licked a tub of Blue Bell ice cream and put it back on the shelf spread across social media — she was also identified by police. A 24-year-old man was given jail time for doing the same thing earlier this month.


© 2020 USA Today