Massachusetts police on Tuesday arrested a man accused of spitting at two women hikers who weren’t wearing face masks — and telling them he had COVID-19.
Hale Powell, 71, was charged with false threat of a biological agent and assault and battery for Saturday’s caught-on-camera incident on a hiking trail in Ashburnham.
The septuagenarian pleaded not guilty at his arraignment later Tuesday — where a judge ordered him to quarantine and get tested for the coronavirus, the Telegram & Gazette newspaper reported.
One of the two women hiking on the trail captured video of the encounter, showing an elderly man spitting at her and then saying “I have COVID. I’ve been tested positive.”
Ashburnham Police said the man told the hikers it was the “law” to wear masks and that they were “irresponsible” for not doing so before hocking a loogie their way and telling them they would soon be ill.
A woman who was with the spitter could be heard saying “Hale, Hale” in the footage, which cops said helped identify their suspect, in addition to the dozens of tips they received from the public.
Police Chief Larry Barrett said Powell told officers he did not have COVID-19 during the booking process.
Powell, who wore two masks to his arraignment, declined to comment on the charges to reporters as he left court, repeating only “Hi, how are you?” while walking to his car, the local paper reported.
He didn’t immediately return a call from The Post Tuesday night. He’s due back in court in January.