Walmart employee attacked after asking customer to mask up, police say
VANCOUVER -- Another dispute over B.C.'s mandatory mask policy erupted into violence this week at a Walmart in the remote community of Dawson Creek.
Police said they were called to the Walmart on Wednesday evening to respond to an assault in progress.
"Officers attended and were informed that a patron had assaulted an employee after being asked to wear his face mask as required," Dawson Creek RCMP said in a news release.
Authorities reviewed surveillance video from the store and identified a 30-year-old suspect. Officers said they found him at home shortly after and arrested him.
Video posted to social media shows a man standing over another man at a Walmart checkout aisle and throwing several punches at him. At one point, a woman can be heard yelling, "Stop, please! This is enough!"
Authorities said the victim suffered only minor injuries and didn't require immediate medical attention.
"Dawson Creek RCMP would like to remind the public that face masks are required in all indoor public spaces, which includes most business establishments," the detachment said. "While individuals may make a personal decision to not wear a face mask they must then not attend indoor public spaces."
In an email, a Walmart spokesperson told CTV News the situation was "completely unacceptable and deeply troubling."
"Our associates are doing everything they can to support our communities during this pandemic," the company said. "We know this behaviour does not reflect our customers in Dawson Creek and they will join with us in condemning this assault. Our thoughts are with our associate as he recovers from his injuries."
The company said it will co-operate fully with the RCMP's investigation.
There have been a handful of altercations over mask use since B.C. implemented a new order requiring people to mask up in many indoor public spaces, including retail stores and common areas of apartment buildings.
While there are exemptions for people who are unable to wear a mask, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made clear Wednesday that they don't apply to people who are ideologically opposed to mask-wearing.
"I have no time for people who are belligerent and are trying to make some sort of a statement," Henry said.
"I have no time for people who believe that wearing a mask somehow makes them ill or is a sign of a lack of freedom. To me, it's about respect for our fellow people who are suffering through this with us, and about making sure we're doing our piece in solidarity to get us through this really challenging time."
As of this week, people who refuse to wear a mask in B.C. can be fined $230. Officers can also dish out additional fines for anyone being abusive or belligerent in defiance of the mask mandate.