Florida EMS charged with felony after intentionally coughing on store employee

Man coughed after allegedly saying social distancing is "getting out of hand."

April 8, 2020, 10:29 AM

A DeBary, Florida, man's intentional cough on a store employee after commenting on the business' efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus was deemed a deadly weapon, police said.

Christopher Canfora allegedly went into a Harbor Freight Tools location early Tuesday morning, approached the register and laughed at the tape markers on the floor placed 6 feet apart.

"This is getting out of hand, this is why everywhere I go I cough behind everyone with a mask on," Canfora allegedly said the 21-year-old cashier before intentionally coughing on her and the register, according to the police report.

Canfora, 49, told police that his occupations was an "EMS" -- emergency medical services -- with "AMR," according to the police report.

After Canfora paid for his three items he allegedly told the cashier that he was going to do the same thing at a nearby grocery store.

Social distancing, wearing masks and gloves are some of the guidelines health experts have recommended for people to take to prevent the spread or contracting the coronavirus. The infectious virus has infected over 14,300 people in Florida as of Wednesday morning, according to the state's health department.

PHOTO: Christopher Canfora in a police booking photo.
Christopher Canfora in a police booking photo.
Volusia County Department of Corrections

When deputies with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office arrived at Canfora’s home, he denied coughing on anyone and said he did not have any symptoms associated with the coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19, according to the police report.

Canfora said he didn’t expect anyone to understand his sense of humor and he couldn’t remember exactly what he said at Harbor Freight Tools store, police said.

Police charged Canfora with third-degree aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony charge.

"Canfora's threat created in the mind of the cashier a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place, and assault was made either with a deadly weapon or with a fully formed conscious intent to commit a felony," according to the police report.

Canfora posted a $5,000 bond, according to online jail records. Attorney information was not made available.

If convicted, Canfora faces up to five years in prison, probation or a fine of up to $5,000.

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