Several Target employees in Edgewater, Colorado faced a familiar situation this weekend when a shoplifter was identified in their store. But unlike previous times, this comes during the middle of a pandemic and the stakes are far higher for regular employees.
Police are seeking a bald, black male in his 30s according to CBS 4 Denver, with possible charges including three felony assaults, theft, and criminal mischief. The man reportedly entered the store and was eventually confronted by a loss prevention officer in the store.
The March 23 incident led to the man taking the Target officer's cell phone and starting to walk out of the store. He was stopped by other employees at the exit doors, leading to the assault at the center of the case.
The suspect threw the loss prevention officer's cell phone and reportedly assaulted the employees blocking his path. According to Edgewater Police Chief Robert Brink in a statement to CBS 4, one employee suffered a bite wound that broke the skin. The manager of the Target also suffered serious injuries but the outlet notes that the medical reports haven't been completed.
Police did not specify what was reportedly stolen from the store or the final number of employees injured. It is only the latest incident to earn spotlight at stores during the tense pandemic period.
While stores have seen a boost in sales due to people shopping out of panic sparked by the pandemic. Walmart, in particular, has sales increase 20 percent in March despite new guidelines and a run on certain items pushing them out of stock.
But at the same time, it has been a tense period for employees who are already stressed over the coronavirus and their protective gear. Several incidents have raised eyebrows, including a shopper who was caught coughing and spitting on a cashier.
After a disagreement over payment, a woman refused to move her cart aside to let others checkout. This led to her coughing and spitting at the employee who later called the police over her behavior.
It also follows several high-profile incidents with people seemingly intentionally trying to spread COVID-19. One stand out is an Amazon delivery driver who was caught on camera spitting on a package. He was let go from the company but joins many giving out chaotic vibes during the pandemic.
Due to these type of incidents and the elevated spread of the virus in the U.S., the CDC has changed their stance on face masks and are now urging all Americans to wear masks when out in public.
"In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission," the official CDC website states.