“Wear a mask, save lives” is the mantra of the day — but it has now become the cause of a dispute that led to the shooting death of a female supermarket cashier in Georgia who got into an altercation with a man over the issue. An off-duty police officer who attempted to intervene was also shot.
DeKalb County Police say that the victim, 41-year-old Laquita Willis, was pronounced dead at Grady Memorial Hospital. The suspect, Victor Lee Tucker Jr., 30, got into an argument with the cashier while checking out at the Big Bear Supermarket in Decatur on Monday. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the suspect left the store, returned, and walked up to Willis before shooting her with a handgun.
"It was over a mask," said DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox at a press conference on Monday. "Don't know if they were wearing or not wearing it... we don't know at this time."
Police have charged the suspect with murder and two counts of aggravated assault.
Maddox said that an off-duty police officer attempted to apprehend the suspect after he shot the cashier. The deputy shot the suspect and was fired upon in return. Another cashier was grazed by a bullet and was treated at the scene, but it is unclear who fired that shot.
Authorities say the suspect was arrested as he attempted to crawl out the front door. Both the suspect and deputy sustained injuries but remain in stable condition. According to 11 Alive, Big Bear Supermarket store owner Ray Kim said that Willis asked the suspect to pull up his face mask. The suspect already had a mask on his face, and Willis, who was described as a “very cautious person,” asked him to wear it correctly.
The city of Decatur still maintains its mask mandate and requires anyone entering an establishment to wear a face covering or mask.