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Police called to heated mask confrontation at valley gas station

A heated confrontation between a gas station employee and an infuriated customer refusing to wear a mask resulted in a call to police Friday afternoon.

The verbal altercation was caught on surveillance video at the Arco ampm on Bob Hope Drive in Cathedral City.

"Honestly I feel like all of us should just do our part wearing a mask," said Assistant Manager Pedro Najera. "It escalated a lot. He actually told me, when I told him to come back with a mask, he told me go ---- myself, and I'm not going to be disrespected like that."

The man is seen pointing to a folder of documents, saying he is exempt from the state-ordered mask mandate. Najera called it an unnecessary maneuver.

"It's easier to wear a mask. He carries around that folder everywhere he goes. To me, it's an inconvenience having to have this conversation – argument everywhere you go when you could just wear a mask," he said. "He tried to say, 'Oh, you're wearing a mask so you're safe already. It's my problem.' I told him, 'No it's not; you could be a carrier.'"

The customer left the store before returning four more times. At one point, he tried to get Najera to sign a document saying he was discriminating against him. Najera ripped that paper up and ultimately called police.

Cathedral City police officers pulled up and spoke with the man before asking him to leave. Police said he was compliant and no citation was issued.

For Najera, the issue is personal. "People are saying it's a myth or it's a lie. There's bodies everywhere. I've known people personally who have died from it. I've known people who have had it. So it's not a lie; it's here," he said.

"I hope he doesn't get it and I hope somebody close to him doesn't get it and pass from it because I have."

He hopes sharing his story will have an impact.

"It kinda brightened my day seeing that I can get this message across," Najera said. "Just do your part and wear a mask."

Coronavirus / News Headlines / Top Stories

Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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