SLATINGTON, Penn. — A Pennsylvania man has been charged with 31 crimes across two counties, including seven counts of attempted murder of a police officer, after authorities say he fired an AK-47 at state troopers following a mask dispute at a cigar store.
Adam Michael Zaborowski, 35, of Slatington, is also charged in Lehigh County with seven counts of attempted homicide, seven counts of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm while prohibited, according to court records. He was arrested Saturday, the day after the incident at the cigar store, by Slatington police officers and Pennsylvania state troopers.
Zaborowski was shot by police after he opened fire on six state troopers and a Slatington police officer during a shootout near his home Saturday, according to the Express-Times in Easton. He was flown by helicopter to St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill for treatment of wounds to his leg and buttocks.
The Slatington police officer suffered a minor injury. None of the troopers were hurt, according to the Pennsylvania State Police.
Zaborowski’s alleged gunfight with law enforcement officials is the latest in a string of arguments over face masks that have erupted into violence. Calvin Munerlyn, a 43-year-old Family Dollar security guard, was shot and killed May 1 following an argument with a woman who refused to wear a mask inside the store in Flint, Michigan.
The woman, Sharmel Lashe Teague, her son, Ramonyea Travon Bishop, and her husband, Larry Edward Teague, have all been charged with first-degree premeditated murder and felony firearms charges.
Five days later in Oklahoma City, a woman shot multiple McDonald’s employees after being told the restaurant’s dining room was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. The suspect, Gloricia Woody, 32, was charged with three counts of assault and battery with a deadly weapon and one count of discharging a weapon.
Last month, two men, John Carrero and Alejandro Escobar, both 34, were arrested by New York police officers and charged with attacking multiple Trader Joe’s employees after being told they had to wear masks in the store, NBC News reported. Eight employees were injured, including one who needed treatment at an area hospital.
Attorney John Waldron, who is representing Zaborowski, told the newspaper pandemic woes contributed to his client’s alleged actions. Zaborowski recently lost both his job and a court battle over custody of his child.
“He just wasn’t dealing well with the loss of his job, the loss of his child, just not handling the pandemic well,” Waldron said. “I think he was getting stretched too tight.”
Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin told the Express-Times that the defendant’s troubles did not excuse his actions.
According to Bethlehem Township police officials, Zaborowski went around 11:30 a.m. to Cigars International and entered the store without a mask, in violation of the store’s policy and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s mandate.
“Staff at the store told Zaborowski that due to COVID-19, they required all patrons to cover their mouth and nose with a face covering,” Bethlehem Township authorities said in a statement. “The staff even told Zaborowski that if he was not comfortable wearing a face covering, they would take his order curbside.
“Zaborowski became irate, grabbed two cigars from a shelf and exited the store without paying.”
A clerk followed Zaborowski outside, demanding he return the stolen cigars.
“Zaborowski turned around, pulled out a semiautomatic handgun and fired one round in the air, then two rounds at the staff member,” the police statement said. “A patron was sitting behind the staff member as the rounds were fired.
Surveillance camera footage obtained by the Express-Times shows a man identified by authorities as Zaborowski walking toward a blue Dodge Dakota pickup truck in the parking lot of the store.
See the footage below.
As he opens the driver’s side door, the clerk approaches. Zaborowski pulls a handgun from the pocket of his shorts, points it into the air and fires.
He then points the gun at the store employee. That’s when he fired the second and third shots, authorities said.
The worker can be seen flinching as the shots are fired. No one was injured in the shooting.
“We are all a little, we’re shaken up a little bit,” Mat Cook, the Cigars International clerk, told WFMZ in Allentown. Cook wore a face mask as he spoke to the news station about the shooting.
Customer Jim Togno was sitting in his car, waiting for friends who were inside the store, when he saw Friday’s shooting take place.
“When I turned around, he had a gun like this,” Togno told the news station as he held up his hand to demonstrate. “I was just trying to figure out how I was going to get on the ground.”
“It was crazy,” said Tom Gallagher, one of Togno’s friends. “I mean, you just don’t expect that at that point in time. It’s just crazy.
“It’s a mask, right? The guy obviously was anti-mask.”
Gallagher said he overheard Zaborowski arguing with Cook over the mask requirement. Cook told WFMZ that he offered to serve the angry customer at curbside if he did not want to put on a mask.
“It’s real simple,” Cook told the news station. “We’ll take care of you if you just wait outside. You can call the phone number and we’ll come out and we’ll bring you your cigars, we’ll take the payment and that type of thing.”
Zaborowski was identified as the shooter by investigators, who obtained arrest warrants for attempted murder, two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of robbery and two counts of reckless endangerment, court records show.
He was also charged with possession of a firearm while prohibited due to a previous aggravated assault conviction, the Express-Times reported.
The newspaper said officers went to Zaborowski’s home Saturday morning and were awaiting the arrival of the arrest warrants around 9:35 a.m. when they spotted Zaborowski getting into his truck and leaving. They stopped him a few blocks away.
According to authorities, he exited his truck and immediately opened fire with the assault rifle.
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