A man was arrested for returning to a Washington-based Asian market Uwajimaya with a machete after staff asked him to wear a face mask in accordance with store policy,
The incident occurred in Renton, WA, on Monday when Uwajimaya staff asked the man to comply with their mask policy, according to KIRO 7. While inside the supermarket, he also attempted to shoplift, allegedly assaulted a staff member, and made threats that he will “return and shoot everyone.”
The unnamed suspect was able to flee before the authorities arrived on Monday. However, the following day he returned to the store carrying the weapon and made more threatening remarks.
“[He] was in our parking lot waving a machete at people and making threatening statements,” Uwajimaya’s CEO Denise Moriguchi told KIRO 7. “We haven’t had much pushback. I think people understand it’s for their safety and it’s for everyone else’s safety. It’s traumatic, and it’s already on top of the stress of the coronavirus.”
The man was arrested on that day and was “booked into jail on suspicion of assault and harassment.”
Authorities said the man was staying at the Red Lion Hotel, which was recently converted into a homeless shelter for those who are not infected by the virus.
There has also been an increase in crimes around the area,speculated to be from this newly moved-in transient population. From higher “fire and police calls” and a tripled number of shoplifting reports compared to the last year, Moriguchi and first responders are feeling its negative effects.
In a statement, the city of Renton said the shelter has “overwhelmed our police and fire departments, disrupted nearby businesses and severely taxed the already limited resources of local human services providers.”
The city also wants King County to honor its promise of removing the shelter after 90 days, which is slated for July 9.
“We’ve seen an increase in shoplifting. It is a challenge because it detracts from our employees doing their job,” Moriguchi said, adding that they are now considering upping security “on top of the extra police patrols near the area.”
“I think unless the shelter has more services, it’s a danger for the community,” she said, wondering if the social services offered there are enough. “So I would like to see, once the lease is up, it not be renewed.”
Feature Image Screenshot via KIRO 7 News