A security guard in California, USA has been charged with murder, after he allegedly fatally shot a customer in a dispute over a face mask.
Jerry Lewis entered the Green Farm Market in Gardena, Los Angeles, without a face mask on 5 July to wait for a tow truck to fix two flat tyres on his vehicle, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
When the 50-year-old entered the store, the security guard, 38-year-old Umeir Hawkins, argued with him about his lack of face covering, which is required by a statewide order by governor Gavin Newsom. Under the governor’s order, all California residents must wear a face mask when inside most public spaces, to help prevent further spread of Covid-19, after the state was badly hit by the pandemic in the last month.
Lewis left the store after the argument with Mr. Hawkins, but returned a few minutes later and got into a physical fight with the security guard over the dispute.
As Lewis walked away from the store, following the fight, Mr. Hawkins pulled out a gun and fatally shot him, according to the authorities. Mr. Hawkins’ wife, Sabrina Carter, was also charged in connection to the shooting after she allegedly drew a firearm during the incident.
The 50-year-old intervened in the fight and pointed the gun at Lewis and other customers, but did not fire the weapon, prosecutors said. The couple were both convicted of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury in 2013, according to the New York Post.
They have both been charged with one count of possession of a handgun by a felon, while Mr Hawkins additionally faces one count of murder.
Mr Hawkins and Ms Carter pleaded not guilty to the charges on Wednesday, and their bails are set at $1 million (£792,670) and $30,000 (£23,786) respectively.
Ms Carter faces up to a possible three years in prison, while Mr Hawkins could be jailed for life.
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