Beginning in March of 2020, state and local governments across the country instituted a slew of public closures and mask mandates to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The policies shuttered businesses and prevented public gatherings — and also engendered a new category of gun violence.
We’ve spotted at least 20 shootings related to these restrictions since the first statewide lockdown went into effect on March 19, 2020. According to an analysis of news clips and Gun Violence Archive data, at least five people have died and 13 have been wounded in incidents that run the gamut from disputes over coughing in public to anger at businesses refusing service to customers who aren’t wearing masks.
“There is a lot of anger, frustration, stress, despair, depression, fear, and hopelessness — all of these emotions are building up for different reasons,” Yale sociologist Vida Bajc told The Trace. “Given all of this, it is not surprising that we see gun violence persist despite the quarantine.”
In the list below, we’ve compiled shootings with a strong connection to pandemic-related public health restrictions, like social distancing and mask requirements, occupancy limits, and business closures. The list does not include gun-related threats or brandishing in public, nor disputes in which the pandemic seems to have played a more limited role.
Spot a relevant example we’ve missed? Please let us know by sending us a note here.
June 14, 2021
A man fatally shot a cashier at a supermarket during an altercation over a mask. He then shot and wounded a sheriff’s deputy who was working as a part-time security guard when he attempted to intervene. The deputy shot and wounded the gunman, who was arrested and faces charges of murder and aggravated assault.
February 26, 2021
New Orleans, Louisiana
A man who was blocked from entering a high school basketball game because he refused to wear a mask fatally shot a 38-year-old Tulane University police officer who was working security for the team. The suspect, who also allegedly robbed someone outside the venue before the shooting, was charged with first-degree murder of a police officer and armed robbery.
February 5, 2021
Charleston, South Carolina
A bar patron shot and wounded a 28-year-old employee after getting angry that the establishment was closing early to comply with state-mandated Covid restrictions.
January 29, 2021
A would-be passenger shot and killed a 49-year-old bus driver after being refused entry for not wearing a mask. After the bus drove away, the suspect jumped in a car and followed behind, shooting the driver at a subsequent stop along the route.
November 15, 2020
A 67-year-old man shot a 58-year-old man in the leg after the victim had asked two women in a supermarket to wear masks. Police say the shoppers called the gunman to the scene, where he opened fire. The shooter was later arrested.
August 31, 2020
St. Louis, Missouri
A 29-year-old man opened fire outside a Family Dollar store after employees told him to leave for not wearing a mask. When a man followed him out to make sure he left, the suspect shot at him. The man, who was not wounded, returned fire, striking the suspect in the hip. The suspect, who is barred from owning guns due to a prior gun-related criminal conviction, was charged with first-degree assault and illegal gun possession.
August 28, 2020
A man shot and critically wounded a 25-year-old man who tried to mediate a social distancing dispute between the suspect and a security guard at a Wawa convenience store. The guard had told the alleged gunman to wait outside because there were too many people in the store. He was charged with attempted murder
August 15, 2020
St. Louis, Missouri
A security guard at a gas station opened fire on three men who attacked him after being told to comply with the city’s face mask mandate. The men allegedly punched the guard and struck him with his own baton. One of them was wounded in the stomach.
August 1, 2020
Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania
A man opened fire outside a cigar shop after a clerk asked him to wear a face mask. The employee was not wounded. When police tried to arrest the shooter the next day near his home in Slatington, he fired on officers with an AK-47 and a semiautomatic handgun. He injured one cop before being shot twice and wounded. He was arraigned on 22 charges including attempted homicide.
July 26, 2020
New Orleans, Louisiana
A man shot at employees at a convenience store after being asked to wear a mask. No one was injured in the incident and police are still looking for the shooter.
July 8, 2020
A convenience store clerk shot at a customer who refused to wear a mask. No one was injured. The clerk was arrested.
May 29, 2020
A man fired his gun out of frustration after a hospital prevented him from being able to visit a sick relative due to pandemic guidelines. No one was injured. The man was arrested.
May 15, 2020
A security guard at a liquor store shot a customer in the ankle after the man reportedly struck him several times in frustration over the store’s pandemic-imposed occupancy limits.
May 14, 2020
May 12, 2020
San Antonio, Texas
A bus driver turned away a licensed concealed carrier for trying to board the bus without a mask, a local news outlet reported. The man proceeded to shoot and critically injure a passenger who came out to confront him.
May 7, 2020
A police officer was shot and wounded while responding to a report that people were not socially distancing at a party. Three men were arrested.
May 6, 2020
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
An employee at a McDonald’s was shot and two other employees were wounded when a customer opened fire after being told the dining area was closed because of coronavirus restrictions.
May 1, 2020
Calvin Munerlyn, 43, a security guard at a Dollar General store, was fatally shot after denying entry to a woman whose daughter was not wearing a face mask. Police arrested the woman, her husband, and a suspected accomplice.
April 22, 2020
De’onte Roberts, 16, was shot and killed during a fight with his stepfather, who refused to let the teen back home after he’d allegedly violated Georgia’s stay-at-home order. The man, 42, was charged with murder.
March 28, 2020
A 53-year-old man confronted a motorist who reportedly coughed without covering his mouth in a convenience store parking lot. The argument sparked a physical confrontation, and the coughing man opened fire. No one was injured. Both men were arrested for assault.