Men wearing 'I have coronavirus' sign spray fluid on items in Illinois Walmart sparking panic among customers
While police say they believe it was a prank, the men face felony charges if caught
JOLIET, ILLINOIS: Police in Illinois are searching for a man who walked into a Walmart wearing a surgical mask and a sign on his back that said "caution I have the coronavirus" and caused several thousand dollars worth of damage by spraying disinfectant on items in the shop.
The incident in question took place at a Walmart in Joliet, with deputies from the Joliet Police Department responding to the store at the 1400 block of Route 59 shortly after 4 pm CST on Sunday, February 2, according to a press release. Two men, including one who was wearing the sign, had walked into the store and sprayed Lysol on produce, clothing, and health and beauty items. Police said the one with the handmade sign on his back was also donning a yellow surgical mask.
Tony Prokes, who was shopping at the Walmart at the time, said the man kept telling people at the store that he was "protecting them." "He was spraying all the produce with Lysol," he revealed to ABC7. "He was telling everyone the same thing, that he was protecting them from the virus."
However, by the time they had arrived at the store, the men had already escaped from the scene. The store estimated that the damages totaled more than $7,300, and said they also had cleanup costs of more than $2,400.
"We were made aware of the situation on Sunday involving the individual causing a disruption inside the store," a Walmart spokesperson told Newsweek. "That individual left the store prior to police being able to make contact and we've provided information to assist law enforcement."
"When you are looking at the damage to property, you are looking at more than $7,000 in damage," said Sgt. Chris Botzum of the Joliet Police Department. "It's a lot of money."
Police have released surveillance photographs of both the men and have asked the public's help in identifying and tracking them down. They said both were white males, possibly in their 20s, and were last seen leaving in a white 2003 GMC Yukon that registers back to the village of Oswego, Illinois.
Anyone with information about the suspects is urged to contact the Joliet Police Department at 815-724-3020 or call Detective Ryan Myers at 815-724-3056. Tips can also be reported anonymously to the Will County Crime Stoppers at 800-323-6734 or online.
While police say they believe it was a prank, the men face felony charges if caught.