ASHBURNHAM (CBS) – Police in Ashburnham arrested a man who they say spit at two hikers and told them “I have COVID” during an incident that was captured on cell phone video. He was identified as 71-year-old Hale Powell of Westford.
It happened November 15 on the Hudson Overlook along the Midstate Trail.
Ashburnham Police said the man was with an older woman when they approached two young women and chided them for not wearing masks. The man allegedly claimed he had COVID and began spitting at the women. A photo of the man was released in hopes of identifying him.
Social media and dogged police work eventually led to Powell. When police showed up at his Westford home, Powell was clean shaven, in stark contrast to the now viral video. But he told detectives he had already talked to his attorney about surrendering.
“Let’s just say it was no surprise, he was not surprised upon our arrival this morning to speak to him,” Ashburnham Police Chief Larry Barrett.
Police said Powell told them he did not have coronavirus, despite saying that to the women.
He was charged with making a false threat of a biological agent and assault and battery. He pleaded not guilty and was released by a judge who also ordered him to get a COVID test and quarantine for 14 days.