Store worker killed after asking customer to wear a mask

  • By Chen En-hui, Lin Hui-chin and Kayleigh Madjar / Staff Journalists, with the editor

Yesterday, an employee of a Taoyuan convenience store was allegedly stabbed to death by a customer after asking the customer to wear a mask.

The incident happened shortly after 5 a.m. at a store on Guangfong Street in Gueishan District (龜山), police said.

When the suspect, nicknamed Chiang (蔣), 41, entered the store without wearing a mask, the 30-year-old clerk, nicknamed Tsai (蔡), asked him to put one on, police said.

Photo courtesy of a member of the public

Chiang walked out of the store and returned with a mask, they said, adding that after paying for his items, he took it off and threw it at Tsai before leaving.

Chiang returned shortly after and asked the clerk to come out from behind the counter, where he allegedly stabbed him repeatedly in the left side of the chest, they added.

A witness reported the incident to police, and paramedics at the scene found Tsai with three 3cm knife wounds in his chest, police said, adding that he passed out shortly after.

Tsai lost vital signs in the ambulance and could not be resuscitated, they added.

Police said Chiang was in a daze when he was brought to the station, but began to express remorse after realizing what had happened and admitted his guilt during questioning.

The knife allegedly used for the stabbing is said to be a tool Chiang allegedly used in his work as a paper-cutting artist, they added.

Tsai’s father arrived at the police station in shock, repeatedly asking how his son died on the job, police said.

Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) on Facebook condemned the “mind-boggling brutality” of the act and said he called for a full investigation and severe penalties.

He asked the city government to fully assist Tsai’s family with the funeral and any other arrangements, Cheng added.

The stabbing was the latest in a series of violent attacks targeting convenience store clerks for demanding compliance with the government’s mask mandate.

In September, a man attacked a Pingtung County employee after she asked him to wear a mask, injuring his eyes.

Last month, a Taichung employee was seriously injured when a customer assaulted him with a glass bottle.

The Central Epidemic Command Center thanked store clerks for their commitment to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also condemned the “unacceptable” acts of violence and asked employees to prioritize their own safety and report uncooperative customers to authorities.

Additional reports from Wei Chin-chun

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