Police: Man claiming to have COVID-19 spits on COTA driver’s face


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A 44-year-old Columbus man has been charged after allegedly spitting into a Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) bus driver’s face after claiming to be infected with COVID-19 coronavirus.

Walter Caldwell, of Bryden Road, Columbus, has been charged with assault and misconduct involving public transportation system.

MUGSHOT: Walter Caldwell, 44, charged with assault and misconduct for allegedly spitting into the face of a COTA bus driver. (Franklin County Jail)

According to Columbus Police, Caldwell was intoxicated and acting disorderly on a COTA bus Saturday at approximately 8:10 p.m. at North High Street and East 11th Avenue.

After allegedly shouting obscenities, the driver ordered Caldwell to leave the bus. At this point, Caldwell allegedly claimed he had COVID-19 and spit directly into the driver’s face, police said.

As a precaution, the driver began an immediate 14-day quarantine, a COTA spokesman said Sunday.

Caldwell was detained and charged by police.

On Saturday, COTA mandated that starting April 15, all riders will be required to wear a face covering of some kind. The masks can be medical, homemade, scarves or bandannas. They must be secure and must cover the nose and mouth.

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