A Georgia man has been arrested for pulling a gun on a woman and her 18-year-old granddaughter at a post office after claiming he feared he could contract coronavirus from them.
According to WSB-TV Atlanta, the confrontation happened when Sandra Wilson and her granddaughter, Shaniyah Carlton, went to the post office to check their mailbox.
“He literally pulled his gun out of his holster. When he pulled his gun out of his holster, all you could do is just think were we going to live? Were we going to die?” Wilson said.
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“In the moment he was pointing it at us, my grandmother stepped in front of me because we didn’t know if we stepped a foot closer or if he would fire it,” Shaniyah added.
The incident, which occurred in Alpharetta last weekend, left both Carlton and Wilson terrified. Throughout the intense standoff, however, the women said they tried to maintain their composure.
“He said, ‘Don’t come near me! Do you understand what’s going on? The coronavirus!’” Wilson told WSB-TV Atlanta.
The accused, 75-year-old Harvey Taratoot, then made a run for it but before that, he apologized.
“He put the gun in the holster and said, ‘I’m sorry I had to do that,’” Wilson said, with Carlton also adding: “When he got to the door, (he said) ‘Don’t touch the door! The stuff on this door could kill you.’”
Before Taratoot drove off, Carlton was able to take a photo of his license plate which she handed over to the police. He was later arrested and charged with “Pointing a Pistol at Another.”
Speaking to WSB-TV Atlanta in the aftermath of the incident, Taratoot tried justifying his action, claiming he was only trying to defend himself.
“These two ladies from the left walk into the main entrance, which is the only in and out entrance, and one of them has a mask on and the other has a hoodie on,” he said. “So, as they start approaching I say to them, ‘Please don’t come any closer,’ and they ignore what I say and keep coming closer.”
He also claimed his wife has severe asthma and was trying not to contract the virus and expose her, adding that he was left with no choice but to pull his gun because the women were uncooperative.
“So, to stop her from coming any closer, for fear that they could have the virus, here it is she’s wearing a mask, I don’t know why she’s wearing a mask, I pull out my pistol, I do not aim it at them, but I pulled it out. As soon as she saw me take it out of my holster, she stopped.”
Taratoot, who spent the night in jail after his arrest, is now quarantining from his wife as a precautionary measure because he doesn’t know if he was exposed while in custody.
“I don’t think in all the years I’ve carried a gun, 40 something years, have I ever had to pull my gun on anybody,” he said. “I’ve never had anybody totally disregard what you say to them when they know, after you explain it to them, that they’re endangering your life.”
Sharing details of the incident on Facebook, the Alpharetta police said Taratoot overreacted. “This was such an overreaction on the part of the suspect. Please do not allow fear to overcome your logic while we’re going through this. This could have certainly ended with tragic results for everyone involved.”