NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WJAR) - A teenaged Walmart employee from Rhode Island says a customer put him into a chokehold after the employee asked him to put a face mask on his toddler.
Hunter Shaw, a 16-year-old Walmart employee, says the Tuesday incident started when he asked a shopper identified as 34-year-old Michael Caro to put a mask on his toddler, but Caro refused. Police say the employee walked away laughing and said he was going to get a manager.
Caro is accused of grabbing Hunter Shaw, putting him in a chokehold and punching him.
“His initial reaction was to grab me by the throat and then push me against the shelves and punch me in the jaw,” Hunter Shaw said. “I had no idea what to do. He decided to result to violence and attack me.”
Hunter Shaw says he was bruised and sore after the alleged assault but did not seek medical treatment.
Caro later turned himself in to police. He was released with a court summons to appear later on charges of simple assault and battery and disorderly conduct.
“He doesn’t have to be in that store. He could have just turned and walked away, but he chose to put his hand on him. That was not cool,” said Robert Shaw, the victim’s father.
Walmart has required customers to wear masks at all stores since July. Some locations have even designated a worker to stand near the entrance and remind customers of the mask requirement.
A statement from Walmart read in part, “We’re deeply disturbed by Tuesday’s incident. Acts of violence are uncalled for and will not be tolerated in our stores.”
“Walmart might need to look at a policy change as far as having their employees enforce such a policy because you just never know what that person could or couldn’t do to you, especially with the ages of the individuals that are employed at Walmart,” Robert Shaw said.
According to the CDC, masks should be worn by people 2 years old and older.