The Florida man, David Maples, filmed freaking out in a Costco after an elderly woman asked him to wear a mask has offered that his dramatic response was due to claustrophobia, suggesting that he has trouble wearing face coverings, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.
In his first interview following the video going viral, Maples told the outlet that wearing a mask gives him "distress".
“After a while, I start to feel like I’m suffocating. I get claustrophobic and that’s an issue for me,” Maples said. “I prefer not to wear the mask. It’s something that causes me a lot of distress".
Maples claimed that he has received hundreds of threatening texts, emails, and voicemails since the 27 June incident. He denied yelling at an elderly woman, declaring that his anger was directed toward other customers in the giant warehouse-like store.
“I remember someone saying something to me about ‘I have cancer, I have cancer.’ I replied, ‘Well, my father died of cancer,’” he remarked, adding, “I didn’t understand why she was yelling at me about that.”
Maples claimed that other events that were not recorded that had led to the incident and had caused him to feel threatened. He said he felt that a "mob was gathering around me".
“In that moment, I was scared. I’m not a fighter, I’m not a person that deals with this on a daily basis,” he said.
Maples pleaded that he be given a "second chance", claiming that the video of him verbally abusing other shoppers does not represent who he really is, asking that people "not take 15 seconds of my life and turn me into a demon".
The video shows Maples yelling at the person recording video of him that he feels "threatened" and to "back the f**k up. After the footage went viral and was claimed by the original poster that the recipient of his anger was an elderly woman, he was fired by his employer.
Florida man at Fort Myers Costco in "Running the World Since 1776" shirt flips out on elderly woman who asked him to wear a mask and man who defended her #BecauseFlorida (via @profjaffar) pic.twitter.com/PDOvi33qHK— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) July 7, 2020
A Divided America
The viral footage comes amid widespread debate in the United States about the mandatory wearing of masks in some states and a health decree conflated with divisions over personal freedom.
Many American leaders have been vocal about wearing face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, including presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden who, if he wins the White House, would “do everything possible" to necessitate that people wear masks when in public.
US President Donald Trump, among other top Republicans, has been hesitant to promote mandatory face covering and has mocked his Democratic rival and others for wearing masks.