Coronavirus: Man charged after wiping nose on Dollar Tree clerk who asked him to wear mask

Michigan man charged after allegedly wiping nose on Dollar Tree employee

HOLLY, Mich. — A Michigan man has been charged with assault and battery after he was seen on video wiping his face on the shirt of a female Dollar Tree employee who asked him to wear a mask.

Rex Howard Gomoll, 68, of Argentine Township, was arrested Monday after members of the public recognized him on store surveillance footage released by the Holly Police Department.

Police officials said a man walked into the Dollar Tree in Holly around 1:30 p.m. Saturday. He was without a mask, which put him in violation of state restrictions that require anyone within an enclosed space to wear a face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. As of Wednesday afternoon, Michigan had recorded more than 45,000 confirmed cases of the illness, with 4,250 deaths.

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“The clerk advised the man that all in-store customers must wear a face covering to enter the store, as stated on the signs posted on the entry doors,” Holly police officials said in a news release. “The man walked over to the clerk and wiped his nose and face on the sleeve of her shirt, telling her, ‘Here, I will use this as a mask.’”

Authorities said the man remained in the store for a short time and was loud and disruptive before leaving.

The video shows the man walk by the store employee, who is wearing a mask of her own. As he walks by, she turns and appears to be speaking to him.

The man turns around and walks in the opposite direction before going to the woman, leaning over and using her shirt to wipe his face. He then walks away, speaking and gesturing back at her.

The video was shared Monday on the Holly Police Department’s Facebook page. It did not take long for the department to begin receiving tips on Gomoll’s identity. See the video below.

** UPDATE ** An arrest has been made in this case. Additional details will be released after an arraignment has concluded. Thank you to all who shared this post, a viewer tip assisted investigators in determining the identity of the suspect. Assault Suspect - Identity Request The Holly Police Department is asking the public's help in identifying the subject in the attached video and picture. The man entered the Dollar Tree store on N. Saginaw St. on Saturday, May 2nd at about 1:30 pm. The clerk advised the man that all in-store customers must wear a mask to enter the store as stated on the signs posted on the entry doors. The man walked over to the clerk and wiped his nose and face on her shirt telling her "Here, I will use this as a mask" the man continued to be loud and disruptive inside the store before leaving in a white possibly Ford window van similar to the one pictured. Anyone knowing the identity of the man or who has information regarding this incident is asked to call the Holly Police Department at (248) 634-8221. Please do NOT share identity or other information to this post. Please reference case incident number 20-2977. Thank you for your help!

Posted by Holly Police Department on Monday, May 4, 2020

“Holly police officers, working with Argentine Township police, spoke with (Gomoll) at his home at 5:37 p.m., where Gomoll admitted to police he is the man in the video, and (that) he did make that statement and wipe his face on the clerk’s clothing,” the news release said.

Gomoll was booked into the Oakland County Jail Monday night. He was arraigned via video conference Wednesday morning and released a short time later on $2,500 bail.

He was placed on home confinement, meaning he cannot go anywhere other than court, medical appointments and the grocery store, police officials said. He was ordered to stay away from the victim and the Dollar Tree where the assault took place.

Saturday’s assault was the second attack on an employee at a Michigan discount store in the span of two days. Three people have been charged with first-degree murder and related charges in Friday’s shooting death of a security guard at a Family Dollar in Flint, about 20 miles north of Holly.

Calvin James Munerlyn, 43, of Flint, was shot in the head shortly after 2 p.m. at the store after he told a female customer, later identified by police as Sharmel Teague, that she needed to wear a mask inside the store.

Teague spit on Munerlyn and left, going to a nearby apartment where her husband, Larry Teague, and son, Ramonyea Bishop, were, authorities said. Police allege Bishop and Larry Teague went back to the store and confronted Munerlyn about “disrespecting” Sharmel Teague.

Bishop pulled a gun and shot Munerlyn, a father of eight, in the back of the head, police officials said.

Sharmel Teague is being held in the Genesee County Jail, but her husband and son are still at large.

The U.S Marshals Service, in partnership with the Michigan State Police, is offering a $5,000 reward for their capture.

“This senseless act of violence, and the loss of human life over someone doing their job is despicable,” Mark Jankowski, acting U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of Michigan, said in a statement. “The United States Marshals Service and the Michigan State Police will bring these two to justice and they will answer for their crimes.”

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Bishop or Larry Teague should contact the U.S. Marshals Service Tip line at 866-865-TIPS (8477) or text a tip to usmarshals.gov/tips/ or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-Speak-Up.

Michigan has been a hotbed of criticism since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order late last month requiring the wearing of masks in public. The governor on Saturday signed an order extending the current requirements through May 29.

“We must continue protecting the health and safety of both consumers and employees at our grocery stores and pharmacies, which we rely on more than ever during this unprecedented public health crisis,” Whitmer said. “Michigan has begun flattening the COVID-19 curve, but we must not take our progress for granted and continue taking aggressive action to avoid further spread of this deadly disease.”

Hundreds of people -- few wearing masks but many armed with semi-automatic rifles -- swarmed the Michigan Capitol Thursday in protest of Whitmer’s strict guidelines.

Howard Gomoll, 68, is charged with assault and battery for allegedly wiping his nose on a Dollar Tree employee, seen at right in surveillance footage from May 2, 2020, after she asked him to wear a mask in the Holly, Mich., store.
Howard Gomoll, 68, is charged with assault and battery for allegedly wiping his nose on a Dollar Tree employee, seen at right in surveillance footage from May 2, 2020, after she asked him to wear a mask in the Holly, Mich., store. (Holly Police Department)