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Man arrested for allegedly pulling knife over face mask dispute at Traverse City area Meijer

Peter Payette
Interlochen Public Radio


Authorities say they have arrested a man who pulled a knife on a Meijer employee in northern Michigan after she asked him to wear a mask.

The alleged incident occurred on Sunday afternoon, when a Kalkaska County man went shopping for groceries at the Meijer in Acme Township.

Grand Traverse County Detective Captain Randy Fewless says one employee would not let the man go in the store.

“When asked if he would please put on a mask he refused to, citing his fourth amendment rights and continued to walk past the employee,” he says.

When the grocery clerk approached the man again, Fewless says the man pulled out a black folding knife and threatened the worker.

The employee called dispatch, and officers arrived after the man had purchased groceries and left the store.

In a since-deleted Facebook post, the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office asked the community for help identifying the man from security footage. 

Detectives received tips from the community but it was information from Meijer’s Corporate Security that led to the arrest.

Fewless says the Grand Traverse County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office plans to charge the man with felonious assault with a weapon, which can carry a sentence of up to three years in prison.

Today in the Lansing area, a man stabbed another man at a store during an argument about wearing a mask, state police report. He was later fatally shot by the Michigan State Police when he pulled his knife on a deputy.

Fewless says the assault over a mask policy has been an outlier in Grand Traverse County so far. The office has not received many complaints from businesses related to their policies.

But Fewless says businesses can report people for trespassing if they refuse to wear a mask.

“If it’s a situation where a business is calling because somebody won’t wear a mask and they want someone removed from their property. It's a trespass and then dispatch would send a deputy out,” he says.

Fewless says local health departments respond to reports of businesses who aren’t following the mask rule.

Taylor Wizner covers heath, tourism and other news for Interlochen Public Radio.