Police try to identify teens who taped themselves coughing on produce in Va. grocery store

Young people videotaped themselves coughing on produce in a Purcellville, Virginia grocery store, Wednesday, and police are investigating and narrowing their search for the juveniles.

The Purcellville Police Department said the store, which has not been identified, immediately removed the affected items, and took measures to ensure the safety of shoppers.

Friday, deputy chief Dave Dailey told WTOP police have not been able to find the video.

Romaine lettuce
Police in Purcellville, Virginia say young people videotaped themselves coughing on produce in a grocery store, during the coronavirus crisis.

“The group of juveniles was seen by another patron, taking video of themselves,” said Dailey. He said investigators believe the video was initially shared peer-to-peer, and haven’t located it on popular sites including YouTube or TikTok.

“We’ve been working with the store, and we pulled their surveillance video,” Dailey said.

“Unfortunately, the incident wasn’t caught on their video.”

However, the young people described by the eyewitness were recorded on the store video, and appear to be juveniles, Dailey said.

“We’re working on the names of some suspects,” Dailey said, but police have not made any arrests.

In an earlier statement, police asked parents to talk with their children about why such behavior is wrong, especially given the current situation regarding the spread of COVID-19.

In addition, police suggested parents monitor their children’s social media posts to avoid the increase of similar incidents: “We have learned that this appears to be a disturbing trend on social media across the country, and we ask for help from parents to discourage this behavior immediately.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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