A shopper shot dead by police would still be alive today if a supermarket had not been forced to implement mask laws, a worker at the store claims.
A 73-year-old man allegedly assaulted a shop worker at Valu-Mart, in Minden, Haliburton, Ontario, Canada, after they asked him to wear a face mask.
He started ‘pounding’ on the employee after rejecting the covering, it is claimed.
Police were called to the scene and traced the man to his home, where he was shot dead by officers last week.
Tianna Frances, a worker at Valu-Mart, said the shopper would not have been killed if not for the new laws making face masks mandatory in Haliburton.
She told CBC: “I guess he just got angry and didn’t want to (wear a mask).
“We couldn’t really deal with that ourselves because it’s really against the rules. So we had to call the police and everything.
“If we didn’t have to force him and … tell him that he couldn’t come into the store, nothing would have happened, really. He would have got his groceries and went along with his day.”
She added that workers should not have to enforce the mandatory mask policy issued by Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit on Monday last week.
Valu-Mart said the man started ‘pounding’ on a worker at the store, with other employees rushing over to take him outside.
After finally leaving the store he apparently climbed into his vehicle and tried to run down some of the staff, before crashing into the side of the supermarket.
He also turned a truck sideways when he hit it as he attempted to drive off, according to the shop’s owner Linda Easton.
Police descended on the suspect’s home in Indian Point Road, near Drag Lake, after tracing his licence plates.
Ontario Special Investigations Unit said: “Outside the residence, there was an interaction with the man and two officers discharged their firearms.
“The man was struck. He was transported to hospital where he was pronounced deceased at 11:47am.”
Ontario Provincial Police Sergeant Jason Folz said: “He refused to wear a mask at the store. He was refused service and the assault happened thereafter.
“So our people became involved with that initial assault investigation and follow-up.”
He added that an officer chased the man’s car for a short period, took down his licence plate and traced it to his home address, CP24 reports.
“Officers attended there, where shots were fired. Additional OPP resources were brought in and ultimately a 73-year-old male was transported to hospital, where he died,” Sgt Folz said.
Police recovered a semi-automatic rifle and a pistol from the scene.
Neighbours have described the 73-year-old as ‘reclusive’ and a ‘strange, strange man’, according to a report.
Garfield Munshaw told CBC News : “He was a very reclusive man. He’s been here, I’d say, between eight to 10 years.
“You never see anybody there; he’s always by himself. Nobody ever goes there. He lives by himself and it was strange. He’s a strange, strange man.”
CBC said it would not reveal the man’s identity until police had informed his next of kin.
Ms Easton told the Minden Times : “The guy just didn’t want to wear a mask.
“All I want to say, I want to give credit to my staff, who were very competent in handling the situation.
“They were the real heroes in this situation. I want to give credit to all grocery store workers, who are faced with interactions every day with challenging people.”
She also expressed her sadness about the man’s death.