Police Arrest Man Accused of Spitting at Hikers During Mask Dispute

The man was caught on camera spitting at two women who were hiking because he said they were not wearing masks, according to police

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A man caught on camera spitting at two women hiking earlier this week in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, has been arrested, police confirmed Tuesday.

The man, captured on video confronting the two women on the Midstate Trail last week because they were not wearing masks, was identified as 71-year-old Hale Powell.

Police in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, are looking for a man caught on video spitting at two women.

Powell was apparently upset the women weren't wearing masks.

"I'm not gonna wear a mask when I'm outside," one of the women is heard saying.

The man, whose mask is pulled down during the confrontation, calls it "selfish" before spitting at them.

He can also be heard saying, "I have COVID" and "I tested positive."

Tips from the public led police to Powell, who was arrested at his home in Westford Tuesday morning.

"The situation didn't need to go to the level that it did, but it certainly could have been a lot worse," said Ashburnham Police Chief Larry Barrett.

Powell was arraigned Tuesday afternoon. He's charged with assault and battery and false threat of a biological agent.

"He is an established, well-respected member of the community," said his attorney, Robert Normandin. "This is truly a 20-second aberration from the way he's lived his life."

Powell was released from custody until his next court date. He's been told to get a test for COVID-19, and to quarantine for 14 days unless he can show he tests negative.

Powell's attorney told the judge his client has no criminal record.

The two women have declined to comment.

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