FORT WORTH, Texas — A man was arrested and charged with terroristic threat after allegedly coughing and spitting on a woman while claiming to have COVID-19, the Fort Worth Police Department announced Tuesday night.
The announcement is the third such announcement today by police departments in north Texas.
According to the Fort Worth Police Department, on Monday, April 6, 2020, Fort Worth police officers were dispatched to a laundromat in the 5800 block of South Hulen Street for a man who was intentionally coughing and spitting on people.
"The victim confronted the suspect, who was sleeping on the property, and asked him to leave," stated the department. "The suspect became irate and coughed in the victim's face while stating that he had COVID-19."
The victim told police the man began attempting to cough on other people at the laundromat before fleeing on foot.
The suspect, identified by police as Jeffrey Smith, was located nearby and arrested. He was transported to an area hospital as a precaution.
Smith was charged with terroristic threat, a class B misdemeanor.
"The seriousness of the current COVID-19 crisis cannot be understated and any threat of using the virus, whether infected or not, will be vigorously investigated and appropriate law enforcement action will be taken."
Earlier today, the Grapevine Police Department announced the arrest of 27-year-old Jonathan Dechoundes who allegedly purposefully coughed on a police officer while claiming to have COVID-19. He was charged with harassing a public servant, a third-degree felony.
Also, this morning, the Carrollton Police Department announced the arrest of 18-year-old Lorraine Maradiaga who was accused of posting to social media that she was positive for and willfully spreading COVID-19. She was charged with a third-degree felony charge of terroristic threat.
According to the Texas Penal Code, a person commits a class B misdemeanor offense of terroristic threat if they threaten to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to cause a reaction of any type to his threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.
The offense is a class B misdemeanor if they place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury and a class A misdemeanor if that person is a member of the person's family, household, or otherwise constitutes family violence; or is committed against a public servant.
The offense is a class A misdemeanor if the threat prevents or interrupts the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place. If the offense's prevention or interruption of said places causes pecuniary loss of $1,500 or more to the owner of said places, the offense is a state-jail felony.
The offense is a third-degree felony if the threat causes impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public service; places the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or influences the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.
The offense is a state-jail felony if committed against a person the actor knows to be a peace officer or judge.