Hale Powell, 71, has been charged with a biological agent for assault, collision and false threat, Ashburnham Police said in a statement.
Powell is accused of spitting on two hikers who wore no mask last week on the Hudson Overlook of the Midstate Trail in Ashburnham, calling them selfish and “completely irresponsible.”
Face masks or clothing are needed in all public places in Massachusetts, indoors and outdoors, even if people are able to maintain a 6-foot social distance, says Governor Charlie Baker’s revised Nov. 6 decree.
Powell pleaded not guilty in Winchendon District Court’s Tuesday indictment, according to a Worcester County Attorney’s Office statement. CNN turned to Powell and his attorney, Robert Normandin, for comment.
Powell was released on his own recognition and ordered not to contact the alleged victims, to take part in a Covid-19 test and quarantine for 14 days, says Assistant District Attorney Marc Dupuis. These test results will be shared with the court and the two victims, Dupuis added.
Powell was arrested without incident at his Westford home on Tuesday, police said.
In the video of the incident, the man asks the two hikers, “Aren’t you wearing a mask?” when one of the women interrupts.
– I don’t care, I’m not going to wear a mask when I’m out.
“It’s not the law, it’s not the law,” the man replies as the camera bounces off the ground to show the man moving away.
A few moments later, he turns around and says, “Selfish is what, completely irresponsible.”
“Okay, thank you very much for your contribution,” she replies.
The man keeps moving away, but pulls off his mask, turns around, and walks back toward the women. The woman with him tries to grab his arm to stop him, but moves toward the other two hikers.
“All right, there’s Covid,” he says, spitting twice at the women, just a few feet away. “I have Covidom, I got a positive test,” he adds, spitting at the women again.
Then he laughs and walks away.
Police said they had received “numerous tips” from the public and that their investigation was ongoing.
CNN Mirna Alsharif contributed to the report.