A grocery-store cashier in Atlanta was shot dead after a face-mask dispute with a customer

·2 min read
mask
Mask rules have created tension in stores. Nico De Pasquale Photography/Getty Images
  • A grocery-store worker in Atlanta was shot dead after a face-mask argument with a customer, authorities said.

  • The authorities did not clarify the store's mask policy.

  • Experts have said retail workers are being forced to act as "mask police."

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A grocery-store worker in Atlanta was shot dead on Monday after a mask dispute with a customer, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said.

Preliminary information suggested the customer had gotten into an argument with the cashier at a Big Bear supermarket in Decatur, Georgia, about his face mask, left the store without buying anything, and returned and shot the cashier, the GBI said.

The cashier was pronounced dead at Grady Memorial Hospital, the GBI said.

The suspect, identified as 20-year-old Victor Lee Tucker Jr. from Palmetto, Georgia, also shot the store's security guard, a reserve deputy with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, the GBI said. Another cashier was also wounded, it said.

In a press conference, DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox said the officer was in stable condition and was being treated at Atlanta Medical Center. He had been wearing a bulletproof vest, she said.

The shooter, who was arrested at the store, was also in stable condition and was being treated at another Atlanta hospital, the GBI said.

Maddox said that she did not know the store's mask policy but that it would be up to the store to decide whether to make masks mandatory.

Maddox said she understood that the topic of face masks was "very sensitive at this time."

"We just want to make sure that everyone is safe," she said.

Critics have said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent relaxing of mask guidelines has made it even more difficult for retail workers, who have to act as "mask police" to enforce rules.

Many workers have faced aggressive customers who disagree with mask policies.

"Essential workers are still forced to play mask police for shoppers who are unvaccinated and refuse to follow local COVID safety measures. Are they now supposed to become the vaccination police?" Marc Perrone, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International union, said in a statement emailed to Insider last month.

Business owners are in a "horrible situation," Larry Barton, a professor of crisis management and public safety at the University of Central Florida, told Insider. "The business owner is expected to be referee, pseudo police, and mask enforcer, just as they're trying to rebuild rapport with customers," he said.

If you're a store worker with a story to share please contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (646) 768-4716 using a non-work phone, by email to mhanbury@businessinsider.com, or Twitter DM at @MarySHanbury.

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