Denver Police respond to dozens of calls involving altercations, threats related to masks

No citations issued
Posted at 1:05 PM, May 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-17 15:05:29-04

DENVER -- Police have been called to referee dozens of disputes between store employees and customers who are ignoring Denver Mayor Michael Hancock's mask order.

Earlier this month, Hancock mandated that people wear masks inside retail and commercial establishments, and while waiting in line outside.

But some customers refuse to follow that order.

When they are reminded to do so, they verbally abuse, and sometimes threaten the staff.

"When we tell them, no mask, no service, they start attacking with bad words," said Marcos Poot, the manager of Montbello Liquors.

Poot told Denver7 he was threatened last week, when he told a customer to don a mask.

"He didn't attack me, but he said he was going to come back later with something," Poot said.

Denver Police released a list of 50 mask-related calls received during the first week of the Mayor's order.

It shows that incidents have taken place at business large and small. Places like King Soopers and Safeway, 7-Eleven, Voodoo Doughnut, and small mom & pop restaurants.

"I'm not surprised at that," one customer said, adding that she wears a mask when she is close to other people, but knows others who don't.

"I'm not wearing a mask right now," said Ryan Combs, while waiting for an order at Waffle House in neighboring Aurora, which encourages, but doesn't mandate the wearing of masks.

Combs told Denver7 that COVID-19 statistics are skewed, that some people are labeled as COVID victims, when they died from something else.

He added that while he doesn't feel the need to wear a mask, he doesn't think people should be arguing or making threats over them.

"I think people should grow up a little bit, not think of themselves only," he said.

There are reports that an employee of that Waffle House, at 12880 E. Mississippi, who was shot just after Midnight Friday, was targeted in a mask-related incident.

But Aurora police say the motivation is still under investigation and they have not confirmed a mask link.

Some people, like Sabrina Jones, have no problem wearing a mask.

"I don't think it's that difficult to put on a mask and try to protect others," she said. "I live with my grandmother, and I'm just definitely cautious, and I don't mind at all. I'd rather be safe than sorry."

Others are more choosy about when they wear them.

"I prefer not to wear one when I'm outdoors," said Robert Ramsey, "but if I'm going to go anywhere that's densely populated, yeah, I guess I'd wear one."

For Ryan Stone, it's the same.

"When I go into businesses," he said, "I wear them. When I'm out walking around, I don't.

Denver Police say no citations were issued during the first week of the mask mandate.