Two suspects were taken into custody Thursday after allegedly spraying a substance on thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise and claiming to have the coronavirus in an Illinois Walmart.
At about 4 p.m. on Sunday, the Joliet Police Department responded to a call from Walmart concerning the suspicious incident, according to a Facebook post.
One of the men seen on the store surveillance video was wearing a yellow medical mask and a homemade sign taped to his back that read, “CAUTION I have the CORONA VIRUS.”
The suspect with the mask was seen spraying some kind of liquid on beauty products, health products, clothing and produce.
The substance was later identified to be Lysol spray. Walmart told the police that the store had to be professionally cleaned, and that tossing out the damaged produce would cost them about $7,300, while additional cleanup would cost about $2,400.
According to WLS-TV, other customers were told by the suspects that they were trying to help them.
“He was telling everyone the same thing, that he was protecting them from the virus,” customer Tony Prokes said.
Police told WBBM-TV that they don’t believe anyone was actually exposed to the coronavirus.
On Friday, The Joliet Police Department issued a news release identifying Tyler D. Wallace, 19, as the suspect wearing the mask.
After reviewing the case with local detectives, the Will County States Attorney’s Office decided that there was enough probable cause to issue a complaint warrant for Wallace.
He turned himself in on Thursday and was subsequently arrested and booked in the Will County Jail on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass to real property, disorderly conduct and retail theft. He appeared in court for a hearing Friday, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The male accompanying Wallace, 17, was referred to the juvenile justice system on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.
“CAUTION: I HAVE THE CARONAVIRUS” – 2 young men now facing felony charges after they pulled a Coronavirus “prank” inside of a Joliet Walmart. pic.twitter.com/p4Ph8CCA2F
— Alexis McAdams ABC-7 (@AlexisMcAdamsTV) February 4, 2020
While the teens may have thought their theatrics made for a funny joke, the worldwide implications of the virus are anything but.
There have been two cases of coronavirus reported in the state of Illinois, and as of Thursday, 12 cases confirmed in the U.S.
According to The New York Times, over 31,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, and 638 people have died from it as of Friday.
This isn’t the first case of someone claiming to have the coronavirus in order to “prank” people.
According to Fox News, a passenger on a flight from Toronto to Jamaica was arrested after claiming that he had been infected with the coronavirus after a recent trip to China. The man reportedly said that it was just a prank.
“It’s not really good to be pranking people that way,” Prokes said. Because of the severity of the situation, “people will be scared.”
Wallace is scheduled to appear in court for the second time on March 6. The 17-year-old is scheduled to appear in juvenile court on March 5.
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