Jacksonville mother could pursue charges against woman who coughed on her at Pier 1

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville mother of 10 could press misdemeanor battery charges against the woman who was seen coughing on her last week while she was inside a store at the St. Johns Town Center.

Heather Sprague filed a police incident report Monday with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, four days after the confrontation that was seen in a now-viral video.

According to the incident report, Sprague told JSO she was inside Pier 1 shortly before 2 p.m. June 25 when she noticed a woman berating staff members in the store over an item she wanted to return but didn’t have in her possession. Sprague also saw two young children wandering around the store, whom she said accompanied the woman.

While watching from a distance, Sprague took out her phone and began recording video. That video later went viral on Facebook.

“Do you really need this? What do you want to do - post it for you? How bout that?” the woman is heard saying while making obscene gestures. “I think I’ll get really close to you and cough on you then, how’s that?”

The woman is then seen coughing on Sprague before she walks out of the store with her children.

The woman, a 58-year-old Fernandina Beach resident, was identified in the report, but News4Jax is withholding her name in this story because she has not yet been charged with a crime.

Sprague, a brain tumor patient who was wearing a mask at the time of the incident, told police that she created an incident report with Pier 1 that day but did not want to make a knee-jerk reaction and call the police right away. She also told police she has not been feeling well since the incident.

The JSO investigator issued a State Attorney’s Office Referral Card for battery and explained the process to seek a warrant and the case was suspended.

It’s unlear if Sprague wants to pursue charges.

Sprague did not wish to speak personally with News4Jax.

She said on her Facebook page:

“I did not speak, react, or engage. Simply stood to document the behavior. When bullies are faced with accountability they must acknowledge the unacceptability of their actions. Within 30 seconds of filming her tirade was done and she left the poor staff in peace.”

Sprague added that she was “off to find a COVID test.”

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Posted by Heather Reed Sprague on Thursday, June 25, 2020

About the Authors:

Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.

Corley Peel is a Texas native and Texas Tech graduate who covered big stories in Joplin, Missouri, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Jacksonville, Florida before returning to the Lone Star State. When not reporting, Corley enjoys hot yoga, Tech Football, and finding the best tacos in town.