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Teen Arrested for Intentionally Coughing on a Customer at a Local Supermarket

Wegmans Food Market on Route 1 was the location of a recent COVID-19 harassment and obstruction of justice incident. Police arrested a teenager for coughing on a middle-aged woman while claiming to have coronavirus.

The teen was with her 36-year-old mother, who was working for Instacart — the nationwide on-demand grocery delivery service which is available to Montgomery and Rocky Hill residents who order delivery from Wegmans.

A 52-year-old woman was standing in the checkout line waiting to pay for her groceries when she asked a 16-year-old girl to give her more space, West Windsor police said on April 3.

Witnesses told police the teen was "not an appropriate distance from the victim." Rather than simply taking a few steps back, the teen and her mother engaged in a verbal argument with the victim. Next, the teen "pulled her facial mask down, walked closer to the victim, and coughed towards her while claiming she had the deadly and highly contagious coronavirus," according to the police.

The mother and daughter claimed they had been behind the designated line during the verbal altercation, and not near the victim. The mother continued the verbal exchange because she did not want the victim "speaking to her daughter in the manner she was."

Upon investigation, police determined the teen was uncooperative at the scene. After "throughly and painstakingly gathering the facts in the incident," Det. Sgt. J. Lai arrested the 16-year-old and charged her with harassment and obstruction of justice. The teen's name is being withheld by police on account of her age. She is a Trenton resident, and awaits an appearance in Mercer County Family Court.

Police said they fully support NJ Attorney General Grewal in having zero tolerance for acts such as this. "We will continue to bring those to justice who choose to victimize others in this manner," said Police Chief Robert Garofalo of West Windsor Police. "We will use full resources to protect our staff and the general public during this time of need."


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