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Two charged in Dawson Creek Walmart assault over mandatory mask order

Outstanding warrants issued for man, woman involved in November 2020 incident
Dawson Creek Walmart Employee attack Dawson Creek
A man and woman have been charged with assault and mischief after an incident involving a Walmart employee after they were requested to wear masks via B.C.'s mandatory public health order. / Screenshot

A man and woman are being sought by RCMP in northern B.C. as charges have been laid against them for an incident involving the province's mandatory mask order.

Though they’re not releasing the names of the suspects, Dawson Creek Mounties are asking the two to come forward immediately as outstanding arrest warrants have been issued following the assault of a Walmart employee on Nov. 25.

RCMP explain as the pair entered the store, an employee asked that they wear masks as it’s required in B.C. for all indoor public and retail spaces, and Walmart itself has also made masks mandatory in all of its Canadian stores.

In the video, which has since been taken down, the male suspect was seen pinning the employee to the ground and began punching them in the head.

He has since been charged with Assault and Mischief under $5,000 as police say he also caused damage to the victim’s cellphone during the altercation.

The woman connected to the incident has only been charged with Assault.

Dawson Creek RCMP said, in the early stages of the investigation, the victim suffered minor injuries and didn’t require immediate medical attention. 

When contacted by PrinceGeorgeMatters regarding posts on social media that allege the involved employee had been physical with the man's girlfriend, S/Sgt. Damon Werrell said any decision on charges will be made by the B.C. Prosecution Service.

"While individuals may make a personal decision to not wear a face mask, they must then not attend indoor public spaces,” Werrell said.

"RCMP have a responsibility to enforce the face mask Provincial Health Order under the Emergency Program Act. Individuals whom refuse to wear a mask, exhibit abusive or belligerent behavior, or fail to comply with patron conditions or requirements may be fined up to an amount of $230.”

In a separate statement to PrinceGeorgeMatters, Walmart Canada says the incident was completely unacceptable and deeply troubling. 

"[On Nov. 25], one of our associates asked a customer to wear a mask in our store. Masks save lives, are required by government order in British Columbia, and are mandatory in all Walmart stores across the country.

"Instead of complying, the customer attacked and assaulted our associate. This incident is completely unacceptable and deeply troubling. Our associates are doing everything they can to support our communities during this pandemic. You can be sure that Walmart will support our associate.

"At the same time, we will cooperate fully with the police investigation to ensure the perpetrator is held accountable for this crime. We would like to thank the Dawson Creek RCMP for their quick response last night.

"We know this behaviour does not reflect our customers in Dawson Creek and they will join with us in condemning this assault. Our thoughts are with our associate as he recovers from his injuries."

- with files from Jess Fedigan, PrinceGeorgeMatters