Hagerstown man accused of coughing on security at Meritus Medical Center


The suspect received a COVID-19 test before arriving at Meritus. The test result is unknown.

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — A Hagerstown man was charged with threat of mass violence after allegedly coughing in the direction of security personnel at Meritus Medical Center last week.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said the suspect, 32-year-old Michael Palani Smith, was in the medical center’s emergency department on March 24 and was asked to wear a protective bandana after hospital staff learned he was tested for COVID-19. The test result was not mentioned in the sheriff’s office news release.

Smith then allegedly yelled that “he didn’t care if he infected others because no one cares about him,” the sheriff’s office said, and he was accused of “forcefully” coughing in the direction of a sheriff’s deputy and a security officer.

The sheriff’s office said the deputy was wearing a face mask, gloves and glasses during the incident.

According to the sheriff’s office, Smith was served a warrant on April 1 for one count of threat of mass violence and two counts of first degree assault. Smith was also charged via criminal summons for two counts of second degree assault. He is held at Washington County Detention Center without bond.

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