3 get life in prison after killing Flint security guard enforcing masks at Family Dollar

Praveena Somasundaram
The Washington Post

Calvin Munerlyn was just doing his job in May 2020 when he tried to enforce Michigan's mask mandate at the Flint store where he worked.

When the 43-year-old Family Dollar security guard told a woman that she could not enter the store without a mask, Munerlyn and the woman's mother got into an argument that turned physical, the Flint Journal reported, citing court proceedings.

Twenty minutes after the women left, two men came to the Family Dollar.

One of them began yelling at Munerlyn about "disrespecting his wife," Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said in a May 2020 news conference. The other shot Munerlyn, killing him.

On Tuesday, after a weeks-long trial in November, three of the family members involved in the incident were sentenced to life in prison without parole, Michigan court records show. Larry Teague; his wife, Sharmel Teague; and her son, Ramonyea Bishop, were convicted of first-degree premeditated murder in November, the Flint Journal first reported.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton speaks with investigators after announcing charges on Monday, May, 4, 2020 against three suspects in the murder of Calvin James Munerlyn, a security guard, at a Family Dollar north of downtown Flint on May 1, 2020.

The sentencing is the conclusion of a case that began at the height of disputes over mask-wearing in 2020 as businesses began to reopen and state governments relaxed some coronavirus restrictions. Across the United States, grocery clerks, security guards and other front-line workers faced violent attacks - some fatal - while enforcing divisive mask mandates.

Throughout the trial, Munerlyn's wife, Latryna Sims Munerlyn, wrote updates on a GoFundMe page that was set up in May 2020, documenting what it was like in the courtroom as she heard testimonies, watched surveillance video and awaited the verdict.

"You shouldn't be out, you shouldn't be able to see the light of day again," she said to the defendants in the courtroom Tuesday, according to the Flint Journal.

Attorneys for the three defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Wednesday.

The Family Dollar store at 877 E. 5th Avenue in Flint is flanked by balloons, candles, and tributes for security guard Calvin James Munerlyn, on Monday, May, 4, 2020.  Munerlyn was shot and killed in a dispute at the store on May 1, 2020.

Before the shooting, Sharmel Teague, 45, and her daughter, Brya Bishop, went to the Family Dollar together on May 1, 2020. Munerlyn said they couldn't be inside without a mask, and he and Teague got into a verbal argument. Then, Teague spat on him and Munerlyn ran after her, tackling her to the ground in the store parking lot, the Flint Journal reported.

Leyton said Teague and Bishop left in a red GMC ― the same vehicle that Teague's husband and son returned in 20 minutes later. Ramonyea Bishop, 23, shot Munerlyn in the back of the head, according to a news release from Leyton's office at the time.

Munerlyn was pronounced dead at a hospital soon after.

Maalik Mitchell, center left, sheds tears as he says goodbye to his father, Calvin Munerlyn, during a vigil Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Flint, Mich.

Police were searching for Larry Teague and Ramonyea Bishop after they'd arrested Sharmel Teague and found the two men about a week later - Bishop was in Bay City, Mich., and Teague was in Houston, Leyton announced.

The trial for the three family members began in November. Brya Bishop, 27, pleaded no contest to the charges against her, which included tampering with evidence, lying to a peace officer and accessory after the fact to a felony, court records show. According to the Flint Journal, Genesee Circuit Court Judge Brian Pickell sentenced her to time served and probation.

Munerlyn was a "father, a husband, a friend, a protector, & a provider," the family's GoFundMe page says. He and Sims Munerlyn have six children.

When the three relatives were found guilty in November, Sims Munerlyn wrote that her family would be "able to get therapy and start our healing process." On Tuesday after the sentencing, she wrote that justice had been served.