The suspect in an incident police describe as “hate-motivated” that occurred at an Ontario T&T Supermarket earlier this month has been identified, according to law enforcement.
Video footage of a customer refusing to wear a mask and hurling racial slurs at grocery store employees circulated on social media earlier this week.
The incident occurred in a Mississauga store on July 5, according to T&T Supermarket.
Ontario’s Peel Regional Police Service has identified the suspect involved, Daily Hive was told Friday, after working diligently to do so since the incident’s occurrence.
Cst. Akhil Mooken said that police are still attempting to get in contact with the individual so that they will be able to conduct an interview.
On Twitter, Mooken said the situation is being investigated as a hate-motivated incident.
Law enforcement is encouraging the suspect to seek legal council and make arrangements to contact and speak with Peel Regional Police.
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Footage of the incident, captured by a customer and shared on social media, begins with a man repeating “you already explained that” to an employee, before dropping several items onto the floor and saying he would never return.
“You guys can all wear your masks, and you can all die … you can all get sick, because when you wear the mask, you get sick. It’s science,” he said.
A voice in the background can be heard asking the man to leave.
“This is a lie. This is a communist, socialist lie. Where do we get our Wuhan communist virus? From China. From you guys. Communist virus.”
The man then begins to ask staff around him, “Where are you from?” to which one individual repeatedly responds, “I am Canadian.”
At one point, the man tells an employee, “You’re as Canadian as my butt.”
“The customer was arguing with another customer and store colleagues for several minutes prior to the video footage. When politely asked to wear a mask, which is store policy, the man initially refused because he said it was ineffective. He then became irate and aggressive, claiming to have allergies and then proceeded to claim he and his friend both had asthma,” Tina Lee, CEO of T&T Supermarket, said in a statement.
“Due to the customer’s behaviour, we stand by the store manager’s decision to ask the customer to leave.”
Lee said T&T’s protocol for customers with medical conditions involves encouraging them to approach customer service so that shopping can be completed on their behalf. Online shopping services are also available.
“His accusations are unacceptable in our workplace,” Lee said.
She highlighted that the chain is a “proud Canadian company employing over 5,200 Canadians across the country” and noted the proximity to this incident’s occurrence to Canada Day.
“These types of incidents are rare, and we believe most Canadians do not share the same view. Customers have been supportive of the measures we’ve employed to keep everyone safe, happy and fed throughout the pandemic and we thank them for their continued cooperation and support throughout this incident,” Lee said.
“I would also like to thank our brave colleagues for standing up for what we know is right.”
The chain has also donated over 1 million masks to local hospitals and healthcare facilities.