A middle-age Southern California man is accused of lying in wait outside local schools for children wearing masks—and then following them around so he can cough at them, spit on them, and taunt them for being “stupid” enough to don the face coverings.
The man, captured on video wearing a “Your mask makes you look stupid” T-shirt, has allegedly been continuing his anti-mask harassment campaign for a month in suburban La Crescenta, with a string of alleged incidents under his belt. Fed-up parents finally had enough this week and gathered at the Crescenta Valley Station to demand police take action.
“[The kids] were obviously getting scared. He was getting three to five inches away and coughing in their faces,” one parent who witnessed the alleged harassment, identified only as Ned, told CBS Los Angeles.
The Crescenta Valley Station, part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, issued a statement Monday promising a “thorough investigation” into the man after one incident was captured on camera.
“Crescenta Valley Station is aware of a video circulating on social media regarding a dispute between an anti-mask adult and others over the masking of children. The incident appears to have occurred off school grounds sometime last week,” police said.
In the video, the man can be seen apparently harassing a group of middle schoolers in a mall parking lot, yelling: “Stay scared. Keep your masks on that don’t even work!”
One of the kids in the group can be heard shouting back, “We’re 13!”
The anti-masker then launches into an expletive-laden tirade at an adult who tried to intervene, screaming, “Look at this grown man with a mask on. What a fricken coward. What a total p—y… Where’d you buy your mask? The stupid store?”
He storms off after calling the group a “bunch of idiots.”
The anti-masker has allegedly been involved in several similar incidents near schools, with the sheriff’s department saying some of the kids who were targeted reported that the man also spit on them, according to local outlet KTLA. He has also been accused of shoving children in some cases.
The man has not yet been publicly identified, but Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Lt. Robert Hahnlein told reporters that police know who he is and are working with police in Glendale to investigate the incidents.
Officers were called to at least one incident under investigation, but the deputy who responded scolded the kids and “decided to lecture [them] about freedom of speech instead of taking their names and writing an incident report,” Emily Lanigan, one of the parents affected, told CBS LA.