Man slaps, coughs on Ace Hardware employee when asked to wear mask, police say

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LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — A 51-year-old Largo man was charged with battery after coughing on and assaulting an Ace Hardware employee and customer over a face mask dispute.

The Largo Police Department said Russell Wood entered an Ace Hardware Store in Largo without wearing a mask. While he was being asked to leave, witnesses said he turned around and coughed directly in the face of an employee.

Police said Wood then took a small step back and slapped the employee with the backside of his hand. As the employee attempted to push Wood out of the store, officers said Wood struck a customer in the face.

During the incident, police said Wood threatened to burn down the business.

Wood fled the scene but was caught and arrested by police shortly after. Wood is charged with battery.

The incident was captured on the store’s surveillance video.

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