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Texas teen who threatened to spread coronavirus charged with making terroristic threat
An 18-year-old Texas woman was arrested on Tuesday after allegedly posting a Snapchat video claiming she was intentionally spreading coronavirus.
Lorraine Maradiaga was detained after arranging her surrender. She has been charged with making a terroristic threat, a third-degree felony, the Carrollton Police Department said in a statement.
While Maradiaga has stated that she does not have COVID-19, authorities have no proof of her status.
She was transferred to the Denton County Jail and her bond was set at $20,000. As a condition of her bail, Maradiaga was ordered to quarantine for 21 days upon the day of her release.
Her arrest comes after a series of videos posted to her Snapchat account on Sunday.
In the clips, she is first seen appearing to go through a drive-through coronavirus testing site. A nurse is heard telling the person behind the wheel to go home while they wait for results.
Maradiaga then posted a video of herself shopping inside of a Walmart.
"I'm here at Walmart about to infest every [expletive], because if I'm going down, all you [expletive] are going down," she said in the clip, obtained by NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.
Later videos posted appear to show Maridiaga coughing into the camera while sitting in her car.
"If you want to get the coronavirus and [expletive] die, call me," the woman said. "I'll meet you up and [cough, cough] and I will shorten your life."
A Justice Department memo sent by deputy attorney general last month gave the green light for people who deliberately spread coronavirus to face federal terrorism charges.
"Because Coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a 'biological agent' ... such acts potentially could implicate the Nation's terrorism-related statutes," Rosen wrote.
"Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated," he added.
This is not the first reported incident of people filming themselves coughing or appearing to go out in public during the ongoing pandemic, which has infected at least 401,166 people in the United States, according to a Johns Hopkins University database.
A 26-year-old Missouri man was arrested and charged with making a terroristic threat after he allegedly filmed himself licking a row of deodorants at a Walmart in an attempt to mock the coronavirus.
A Pennsylvania store removed nearly $35,000 worth of food after a woman intentionally coughed all over the produce, deli and bakery sections. She was charged with terroristic threats.
A man in Cuba, Mo., also faces a terrorism charge after he allegedly coughed on the customers of a local business, breathed on merchandise and wrote "COVID" in the condensation inside of a cooler.