Deputies seek man accused of pulling knife when asked to wear mask at Acme Twp. Meijer

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Grand Traverse County sheriff's deputies are looking for a man accused of an assault at a Meijer store Sunday.

Officials said the incident happened at about 2 p.m. at the store in Acme Township, about 10 miles east of Traverse City.

Deputies released a photograph of the man and ask anyone with information about him and his whereabouts to call Deputy Dave Suhy at (231) 995-5000.

Grand Traverse County sheriff's deputies  are seeking this man for questioning in connection with an alleged assault at the Acme Township Meijer store on Sunday, July 12, 2020.

According to the Traverse City Record-Eagle, the man brandished a knife at a store employee after she asked him to wear a face-covering while in the store to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

Lt. Chris Oosse with the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Office said Monday no one was injured in the incident and deputies continue to search for the man "to get his version of what happened."

He said the store's employee asked the man at least three times to put on a face covering to comply with store policy. The man allegedly told the worker that requiring him to wear a mask violated his rights and he refused to do it, Oosse said.

He then reached into his pocket, pulled out a folding knife and opened it to expose the blade and showed it to her, the lieutenant said.

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The woman told deputies the knife had a black handle and a 4-inch blade, according to the Record-Eagle.

The worker disengaged and let the man continue to shop. Oosse said he purchased a few items and then left the store before deputies arrived.

The incident came about a day before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive order that requires masks to be worn in crowded outdoor spaces and any business open to the public to refuse service to people who won't wear face coverings with limited exceptions went into effect. She issued the order on Friday.

Willful violations of the new order, which went into effect Monday, can result in a misdemeanor, potentially a $500 fine. It also said businesses that don't follow the order can have their licenses suspended.

In addition, businesses that are open to the public are banned from providing service and entry to customers unless they wear a face covering.