GLOUCESTER TWP., N.J. - The Gloucester Township police chief is standing up for his team after he says an officer was punched and spit on by a suspect claiming to have coronavirus. Chief David Harkins says the officer involved is feeling fine and back to work.
Zachary Hagin, 33, is facing charges for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, and endangering, according to police.
“The last thing we need is some clown to do this to us and we are not going to tolerate it,” said Chief Harkins. “It makes us angry quite frankly that I have to worry about officers. They are worried about catching this deadly virus that’s invisible and then we have someone who is actively trying to give it to us.”
Officials say officers were responding to a call for help on March 20 at a home on Jarvis Road. It appeared to be a break-in, police say, by a man who was drunk.
“The guy was intoxicated and all of a sudden he comes at our officers, attempts to fight our officers. When they tried to get him under control he starts stipping at them telling them, I hope you get the coronavirus."
It’s happening across New Jersey. The Attorney General’s Office released a list of similar incidents of people getting arrested and claiming to have COVID-19.
“These officers are wearing masks, gloves, goggles on top of their normal equipment.”
The chief showed FOX 29's Lauren Dugan how his officers are trying to protect themselves from coronavirus, while they protect their community.
“We are here to protect people, we are serving people as best that we can, and they are doing just a great job doing it," Chief Harkins said.
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