- Calvin Munerlyn, a Family Dollar security guard in Flint, MI., was shot and killed Friday after telling a customer she needed to wear a mask to shop in the store.
- Local authorities announced Monday that they had charged three people allegedly involved in the incident with premeditated first-degree murder. While one person was arrested, two are still at large.
- Tensions over mask policies also appear to exists outside of Michigan. In Stillwater, OK., city officials rolled back mask requirements just hours after enforcing the policy due to escalated threats of violence, including one shooting.
Michigan Guard Shot and Killed
Three people in Michigan were charged with first-degree murder on Monday after allegedly shooting and killing a security guard who told their family member they were required to wear a mask while shopping.
The incident occurred in Flint on Friday when Family Dollar security guard Calvin Munerlyn told a woman she needed to wear a face mask to stay in the store. Notably, that woman then left and went back to her car; however, her mother—who was wearing a face mask—remained inside the store.
The mother, later identified as Sharmel Teague, reportedly began yelling and even spitting at Munerlyn. Because of that, he asked the cashier not to serve her. She then stormed out of the store, got in her car, and drove off.
About 20 minutes later, prosecutors said that same car drove back into the parking lot. This time, Teague’s husband and son—Larry Teague and Ramonyea Bishop—reportedly get out of the car and walked into the store.
According to surveillance footage obtained by prosecutors, Larry Teague approached Munerlyn. Teague then started yelling at him, telling Munerlyn that he had disrespected his family members.
Prosecutors said Bishop pulled out a gun and shot Munerlyn in the back of the head, killing him.
Bishop, Larry Teague, and Sharmel Teague were all charged with premeditated first-degree murder on Monday.
While prosecutors said they found and arrested Sharmel Teague, both Bishop and Larry Teague are still at large.
Family and Friends Remember Munerlyn
Munerlyn was reportedly the father of eight children. On Sunday, his wife of 10 years grieved for his loss while speaking with local NBC affiliate WEYI.
“This just can’t be real. My babies need their daddy,” Latryna Sims Munerlyn said while in tears. “I’m just suffocating. I feel like a knife is in my chest.”
Also on Sunday, Munerlyn’s cousin, Tina James spoke with ABC affiliate WJRT, where she expressed a mixture of anger and grief.
“This was just senseless over a mask!” she said. “Over a mask! I don’t understand it.”
Later that night, family and friends gathered for a vigil at the Family Dollar where Munerlyn died to remember him.
On Monday, Genesee County commissioner Bryant Nolden called Munerlyn a longtime friend and said Munerlyn worked out at a local gym where Nolden serves as the director.
“This really broke my heart,” Nolden said. “He would come in three or four times a week and he’d train anyone who wanted to be trained for free. We have a senior dance, and he’d come and dance with the seniors.”
Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton suggested in a statement that he doesn’t believe Munerlyn acted out of conduct when interacting with Sharmel Teague and her daughter.
“From all indications, Mr. Munerlyn was simply doing his job in upholding the governor’s executive order related to the COVID-19 pandemic for the safety of store employees and customers,” Leyton said.
On April 24, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order requiring customers in businesses to wear face masks. Since then, there’s been a hefty amount of pushback against various parts of this order, but there’s no actual criminal penalty for breaking it. It mainly allows businesses to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask.
However, Larry Teague has also been charged with a misdemeanor for breaking the executive order.
Stillwater, OK. Rolls Back Mask Mandate
Almost a thousand miles away on the same day that Munerlyn was murdered, Stillwater, Oklahoma enacted a new requirement forcing all customers and employees in local businesses to wear face masks.
Notably, that comes as the state begins reopening businesses like restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters; however, just three hours later, multiple businesses were reporting that their employees had faced not only verbal abuse but also violent threats when trying to enfore the policy.
One of those threats even reportedly included a shooting.
Later in the day, the city decided to roll back its mask mandate, instead encouraging—but not requiring—customers and employees to wear masks.
The announcement also came with a sharp rebuke from city manager Norman McNickle toward those threatening violence.
“The City of Stillwater has attempted to keep people safe by the simple requirement to wear a face covering to protect others,” McNickle said in a statement. “It is unfortunate and distressing that those who refuse and threaten violence are so self-absorbed as to not follow what is a simple show of respect and kindness to others.”
On Sunday Mayor Will Joyce told MSNBC that part of the decision to roll back the mandate came because Stillwater simply doesn’t have a big enough police force to deal with the number of violations it expected.
“It’s been a difficult issue for the last two weeks,” Joyce said. “We’ve had a strong encouragement in all of our orders for the last two weeks for everyone to wear face coverings while out in public even while we were under a shelter in place order. And sort of measuring that against the idea of trying to enforce a broader order, which is difficult, you know, we’re a small city. We don’t have the kind of police force that can go out and try to deal with every single one of the people who may not be willing to wear the mask.”
Similar to “no-shirt, no-shoes” policies, businesses in Stillwater are currently still able to make their own rules when it comes to the issue of requiring face coverings.
See what others are saying: (WEYI) (WJRT) (Detroit Free Press)
Soldier Charged With Assault After Shoving Black Man in Viral Video
- Authorities charged Army soldier Jonathan Pentland with third-degree assault and battery on Wednesday after a viral video showed him shoving a Black man while yelling at him to leave a South Carolina neighborhood.
- Many people, including dozens who protested outside Pentland’s home this week, condemned the confrontation as another instance of someone being attacked for “walking while Black.”
- Pentland and others claimed the unidentified man was picking a fight with neighbors, which the man denied, but police said nothing that may have happened earlier justified Pentland’s actions.
- If convicted, Pentland faces a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.
A U.S. soldier was charged with assault on Wednesday after a video that circulated online showed him yelling at and shoving a Black man in a South Carolina neighborhood.
Footage of the April 8 incident was posted to social media Monday. It shows the Army soldier, Jonathan Pentland, confronting the unidentified man and telling him to leave the neighborhood.
The other man explains that he’s just walking through the area and doing nothing wrong, but Pentland becomes increasingly aggressive. “You better walk away,” he shouts at the man after shoving him.
“You either walk away, or I’m gonna carry your ass out of here,” he continues before adding, “You’re in the wrong neighborhood motherf*ker. Get out!”
The man then tries to tell Pentland that he lives in the neighborhood, and Pentland then asks for his address, which he does not give.
The confrontation continues with Pentland cursing and getting in the man’s face. As he does so, the man says that Pentland smells drunk.
It’s unclear what exactly led up to the confrontation, but in the video, a woman off-camera says the man “picked a fight with some random young lady that’s one of our neighbors.”
“I don’t even know who she is. Nobody picked a fight when someone ran up on me,” the man replies. Another woman off-screen then encourages the man to leave with her, saying, “What’s your name? Come on. You don’t want no trouble.”
Video Triggers Protests Outside Pentland’s Home
After this video spread online, many social media users condemned it as another instance of someone being attacked for “walking while Black.”
In fact, protesters even began demonstrating outside of Penland’s home. Those protests started off peaceful, but deputies were then called after 8 p.m. because unknown individuals vandalized the house. That forced police to shut down access to the area and remove Pentland’s family to another location.
As far as the viral video, deputies were told that the man approached “several neighbors in a threatening manner” and that someone had asked Pentland to “intervene.”
Police did confirm that there are two reports of alleged assault against the unnamed man Pentland shoved that are being investigated. However, they also added that the man has “an underlying medical condition that may explain the behavior exhibited in the alleged incidents.”
Either way, police said whatever happened earlier did not justify Pentland’s actions. He was ultimately arrested Wednesday morning and was charged with third-degree assault and battery. He faces a $500 fine and 30 days in jail if convicted.
“We’re not going to let people be bullies in our community,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said at a news conference Wednesday. “And if you are, you’re going to answer for it, and that’s what we’ve done in this case.”
On top of that, the Justice Department reportedly was investigating. Pentland’s Commanding General even issued a statement condemning his behavior, adding that Pentland “brought disrespect to @fortjackson our Army and the trust with the public we serve.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (ABC News) (Huffpost)
Texas Students Created Snapchat Group To ‘Slave Trade’ Black Classmates
- Freshmen at a Texas high school set up a Snapchat group to pretend to sell their Black classmates.
- A screenshot showed the group name being changed from “Slave Trade” with emojis of a Black man, a gun, and a white police officer to “[racial slur] Farm” and then “[racial slur] Auction.”
- That image also shows a person saying they would spend $100 on a peer while a second student said they would spend $1 on another, adding “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”
- The school faced backlash for initially describing it as “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment,” without acknowledging the racism. The district later issued a stronger condemnation and said the students were disciplined but did not list specific consequences.
Racist Snapchat Group
Aledo high school students at Daniel Ninth Grade Campus in Northern Texas are making headlines for setting up a Snapchat group to pretend to sell their Black classmates.
A screenshot reviewed by several local news outlets showed the group name being changed from “Slave Trade” with emojis of a Black man, a gun, and a white police officer to “[racial slur] Farm” and then “[racial slur] Auction.”
That image also shows a person saying they would spend $100 on a peer. A second student said they would spend $1 on another, adding “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”
At least one student who was mentioned as being “sold” in the chats was later sent screenshots of the conversations.
According to a report from the Star-Telegram reported last week, when the issue was brought to Principal Carolyn Ansley, she sent parents an email that didn’t mention the Snapchat group but only cited “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment.”
That caused frustrations because parents felt the issue of racism wasn’t being addressed or acknowledged.
Mark Grubbs, a father of three former students, told KXAS he was sickened by the students’ actions. Grubbs, who is Black, also said he had taken his children out of the district over other racist incidents in the past.
“My son being called out of his name and what not and it got to the point he didn’t mind fighting and that didn’t sit right with me and my wife. My son was never a fighter,” he said.
After the incident garnered media attention, the Aledo Independent School District issued a statement.
The district said it learned of the incident more than two weeks ago and started an investigation that involved law enforcement.
“There is no room for racism or hatred in the Aledo ISD, period,” it added. “Using inappropriate, offensive and racially charged language and conduct is completely unacceptable and is prohibited by district policy.”
District officials spoke with the students responsible as well as their parents, saying they “made it clear that statements and conduct that targets a student because of his or her race is not only prohibited but also has a profound impact on the victims.”
The district also said it assigned disciplinary consequences, though it did not explicitly state what those consequences were or state how many students were involved.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (ABC) (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
What You Need To Know About the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Pause
- The CDC and the FDA have issued a joint recommendation to pause distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine amid reports that six women experienced “extremely rare” blood clots after receiving the single-dose shot.
- The vast majority of the 6.8 million Americans who were given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have reported minor to no side effects, and no direct link has been established between the vaccine and blood clots at this time.
- The two agencies are expected to release updated guidance in the coming days.
- Several states and cities are now automatically giving the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to people who were scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week.
CDC and FDA Recommend J&J Vaccine Halt
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, released a statement Tuesday recommending a pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.
So far, 6.8 million people in the U.S. have been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine, most with zero or only mild side effects.
The updated guidance comes after six women, all between the ages of 18 to 48, experienced what both agencies described as “extremely rare” blood clots six to 13 days after being vaccinated. One of those women has died and another is in critical condition.
Neither the CDC nor the FDA has confirmed that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the cause of these blood clots; rather, they said this guidance comes “out of an abundance of caution.”
That’s also in line with Johnson & Johnson itself, which said it’s aware of the reports but added that “no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events.” As a precaution, Johnson & Johnson has also now delayed the rollout of its vaccine in Europe.
What Happens From Here?
Principal Deputy Director of the CDC Anne Schuchat said further recommendations will come quickly.
FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock echoed that statement, saying, “We expect it to be a matter of days for this pause.”
Wednesday, a CDC committee will convene to discuss the cases and assess their potential significance.
When asked if the government was overreacting to just six cases out of nearly 7 million vaccinations (a criticism made by some online), Schuchat said the CDC pulled its recommendation specifically because the type of blood clots seen in these 6 women requires special treatment, so “it was of the utmost importance to us to get the word out.”
In the meantime, both agencies are urging Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients to contact their doctors if they experience any combination of severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath.
What If I Had A J&J Appointment?
Both agencies, as well as other health officials, are still urging unvaccinated people to take the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines when available in their area.
The White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator has said that 28 million doses of those vaccines will be made available this week. Notably, that’s more than enough for the country to continue giving 3 million shots a day.
If you had an appointment scheduled to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you’re likely not completely out of luck.
For example, while D.C. vaccination sites are canceling all Johnson & Johnson appointments between Tuesday and this Saturday, the health department there has said it’ll send out invitations on Wednesday to reschedule.
Similar situations were reported in Virginia and Maryland, though some vaccination sites in Maryland are still honoring existing appointments by automatically giving people Pfizer instead. That’s also a process that is now being conducted in places like New York State and Memphis.