A woman suffered a heart attack shortly after being spat at by a man refusing to wear a face mask in a coffee shop, according to reports.
The Nelson Police Department in British Columbia, Canada, confirmed it was investigating an incident at Empire Coffee in the Adventure Hotel on Friday, November 20.
According to the hotel’s general manager Robert Little, a customer “got pretty disgruntled” and started to “shout profanities and called the staff sheep” when he was asked to put on a mask.
“We even have [masks] available if people forget them,” Little told CTV News.
Little said the manager of the coffee shop contacted the hotel’s financial controller, a long-time employee, for help in handling the irate customer.
“She didn’t hesitate to go try to deal with the situation, assuming that she was … dealing with somebody that had some level of civility,” Little said.
The woman told the customer he would not be allowed inside without a mask, in accordance with public health rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Little said the customer then spat on the financial controller, who was left “in shock.”
About an hour later, the woman entered Little’s office complaining of chest pains. She was taken to a hospital in Kelowna.
“She had a massive heart attack,” Little said. “From what I’ve heard from family, she’s stable right now. She’s definitely not out of the woods by any stretch, and she’s still in intensive care.”
Little added: “There’s definitely a sentiment of people getting a little more agitated, angry, as this pandemic continues to go, but this one really crossed the line.”
Nelson police were called and a man was arrested on suspicion of assault. The suspect’s details have not been released as he has not been charged, but he is reported to be known to police.
Staff Sergeant Brian Weber, of the Nelson Police Department, said officers were investigating if the woman’s heart attack was connected to the incident.
“There have been … some investigations that have made those causal links in the past,” he told CBC. “[But] it’s far too early and I know far too little about the exact file to make that kind of jump right now.”
Nelson police have been contacted for further comment.
Visitors walk past face mask signs on Decatur Street, New Orleans, on July 14, 2020. A woman in Nelson, British Columbia, suffered a heart attack shortly after being spat at by a man who was refusing to wear a mask inside a coffee shop. Sean Gardner/Getty