A Santa Fe man has been charged with two counts of assault after police said he entered a Cerrillos Road store and intentionally coughed on several people.
Edward Babcock, 40, is accused of coughing on a woman and her 10-year-old daughter March 23 at Big Lots, according to a criminal complaint filed in Municipal Court.
The woman, who asked that her name not be used, said in a telephone interview Monday she is concerned she may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus since the incident. She has not been tested for the virus and is not showing symptoms of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.
“I had just gotten” to the store, the woman said, recounting the incident. “I was there for maybe a minute and a half with my daughter; she’s 10. We just went to get laundry detergent and dish soap. … He just walked past me, right, face to face, and he was saying, ‘It’s on, it’s on.’ ”
The woman said a few minutes after Babcock coughed on her, he went behind her daughter and coughed on the back of her neck.
According to the criminal complaint, a witness said Babcock was getting close to others and coughing on them as well.
“All parties stated they were in fear of contracting the coronavirus … due to the male coughing and in close proximity,” a State Fe Police Department report states.
The witness alerted an officer who happened to be inside the store about Babcock’s alleged behavior and pointed to him as he was driving away in his vehicle, the woman told The New Mexican. The officer ran out of the store and ordered the man out of the vehicle. He then was placed in handcuffs.
“It was pretty frightening from [my daughter’s] perspective … because every kind of police officer just showed up so quickly,” the woman said. “It was really scary.”
According to the police report, Babcock was released from police custody at the scene and his charges forwarded to Municipal Court.