Store owner describes clash with angry anti-mask customer

Apr 15, 2021, 3:52 PM
mask mandate anti-mask customer threatens store...
Employees closed the Stockist store in Salt Lake City after an customer refused to comply with mask requirements and threatened to shoot up the establishment. (Photo: Amy Donaldson)
(Photo: Amy Donaldson)

SALT LAKE CITY — One day after the statewide mask mandate was lifted, one anti-mask customer entered a Salt Lake City business and refused to follow the store’s mask policy. When employees called the police, the man threatened to come back and shoot them.

But Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced April 7 that she was using her office’s emergency powers to keep a mask mandate in place.

The store’s owner talked about it with Dave & Dujanovic on KSL NewsRadio this week, taking the governor and lieutenant governor to task over it.

Anti-mask customer to face charges

Helen Wade, who owns The Stockist, the clothing store in Salt Lake City that was threatened by an anti-mask customer, explained her frustrations with Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic.

Some customers take her store’s mask rules seriously, she said on the program. But she described others as rude, disrespectful, and unconcerned about others’ safety. 

William C. Lewis, 42, faces a disorderly conduct charge related to a confrontation over the weekend at The Stockist, a store near the 9th and 9th district. Police say they booked him into the Salt Lake County jail, KSLNewsRadio.com reported.

‘I’m going to go get my gun. I’m going to come back and shoot you all,” employee Josh Edgar said. “I didn’t take it too seriously, at first. It’s such a crazy thing to say to someone … But then you sit on that for a second, and you’re like, ‘Oh, wait. Maybe he’s serious.’”

State leaders disappoint store owner 

Debbie noted Gov. Spencer Cox issued a statement condemning threats of violence. The governor said:

We had a couple instances over the weekend where people threatened workers. That’s unacceptable — and by the way, it’s still illegal to threaten people with their life. We will hold those people accountable and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. Look, be respectful, let’s be kind with each other. We know that it’s been a hard go for everyone.

“Did those words satisfy your worries, Helen?” Debbie asked.

“No, I mean, what does he expect, like, we’ve seen it all year long throughout this entire pandemic,” Wade said.

“The lieutenant governor, Deidre Henderson, visited your store yesterday. Did you have a chance to chat with her at all?” Dave asked.

“Not about anything serious,” Wade said. “She just came in and said, ‘Sorry this happened. We support you.’ . . . If we’re really going to sit down and talk good policies, I should be going to her offices and be sitting like at a round table and talking about it — not just like doing a pop into my store, taking a photo.”

Mask mandate prematurely lifted, says owner

Wade said she would have liked to see the statewide mask mandate lifted on June 1 instead of April 10.

“You’re getting two doses. It takes over a month to be fully vaccinated. It just doesn’t make sense . . . they pulled April 10 out of the bag,” Wade said. “Lifting the mask mandate just left it on our shoulders to be the enforcers. It’s just one more thing we don’t really want to have to do.”

She said Gov. Cox should have vetoed the bill lifting the mask mandate April. 10.

“[Cox] still could have vetoed it and really made a stand, but he didn’t,” Wade said.

Debbie pointed out the Legislature pushed for lifting the statewide mask mandate to help businesses return to normal; ironically, Wade’s store wound up shutting down for a day over the shooting threat. 

“We had to shut down on a Sunday. For our neighborhood, that’s a really busy day,” she said. “It really just adds extra layers of like stress to myself into all the employees working.”



Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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Store owner describes clash with angry anti-mask customer