Missouri Man Accused of Licking Walmart Items in Coronavirus Stunt After Social Media 'Challenge' Sees Others Lick Toilets

A man has been charged with making a terrorist threat after allegedly recording a video of himself mentioning coronavirus before licking several items in a Missouri Walmart.

Cody Lee Pfister, 26, of Warrenton, was taken into custody by the local police department Monday after video of the stunt surfaced on social media earlier this month. In the clip, a man says "who's scared of coronavirus?" before wiping his tongue across a row of deodorants on a store shelf.

Court filings linked to the prosecution obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch confirmed the man had been charged with making a terrorist threat in the second degree.

The filings alleged Pfister "caused a false belief or fear that a condition involving danger to life existed" and demonstrated "reckless disregard of the risk causing the evacuation, quarantine or closure of any portion" of the Warrenton retail outlet. The incident was allegedly filmed on March 11.

In the state, the charge is a Class E felony, which carries penalties of up to four years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. Pfister's initial court appearance was scheduled for today.

In a statement on Monday, the City of Warrenton Police Department confirmed an arrest, and said charges were being spearheaded via the Warren County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

"This particular video, which won't be shared here, has gained some international attention and we have received numerous reports about the video from locals, nearby residents, as well as people from the Netherlands, Ireland, and the United Kingdom," the department said.

It added: "We take these complaints very seriously and would like to thank all of those who reported the video so the issue could be addressed." Copies of the Walmart stunt remain online.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says COVID-19, the infectious respiratory disease that is caused by the novel coronavirus, is believed to mainly spread person-to-person and from droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

"It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes," the agency says.

On Tuesday, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen suggested that anyone caught intentionally spreading the novel coronavirus could face charges under federal terrorism laws because it meets the "statutory definition of a 'biological agent,'" Politico reported, citing a government memo.

Pfister's arrest comes after a handful of teenagers sought attention on social media apps by filming themselves licking toilet seats as part of a trend dubbed the "coronavirus challenge."

Earlier this month, a teenager attracted headlines after posting a video that purported to show her licking the seat of a toilet bowl in an airplane in an attempt to start a trend, Vice reported. The teen later said she didn't regret her actions and admitted it was done to raise her own profile.

Another teenager who filmed himself licking a toilet and saying "coronavirus challenge" later claimed to have contracted COVID-19. His Twitter account has been suspended. Another video that was spreading on social media this month showed an unidentified man licking a metal railing multiple times.

While the trend does not appear to have taken off, the #coronaviruschallenge hashtag has almost 100 million views on TikTok. There are currently more than 438,700 global infections of the illness.

Man licks Walmart items in viral video
A video was posted to social media earlier this month showing a man licking several items in Walmart after saying "who's afraid of coronavirus?" Twitter/Screenshot
Missouri Man Accused of Licking Walmart Items in Coronavirus Stunt After Social Media 'Challenge' Sees Others Lick Toilets | News