Debra Hunter is the Florida woman who was recorded intentionally coughing on another person at a Pier 1 store on June 25, according to a report from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office obtained by Heavy. The woman who was filming, Heather Sprague, identified herself as a brain tumor patient when she posted the video on social media.
Sprague claimed she started recording after witnessing Hunter screaming at the store workers. Hunter switched her attention to Sprague after realizing she was being filmed and flipped Sprague off with both hands.
As shown in the video, Hunter proclaimed, “I think I’ll get real close to you and cough on you, then. How’s that?” Hunter then leaned forward and loudly coughed on Sprague’s face before calling Sprague an a**hole as she walked away. Another witness, who was off-camera, can be heard expressing shock over the encounter.
Here’s what you need to know:
Sprague Claimed Hunter Threatened the Store Workers For Not Giving Her a Refund
Sprague explained on her Facebook page that she stepped inside the Pier 1 store to get relief from the heat. She said she had an appointment within the St. Johns Town Center mall in Jacksonville and decided to step into the air conditioning while she waited.
Sprague said she saw a woman at the cash register, later identified by law enforcement as Hunter, yelling at and threatening the store employees over an item she wanted to return. She didn’t have it with her at the time but instead showed the workers a photo of the product on her phone. Sprague said the Pier 1 staff was “professional and respectful. But they couldn’t return an item she didn’t actually have with her.”
Sprague claimed Hunter also physically threatened the store workers by trying to prevent them from walking away. She wrote, “When she positioned herself so the clerks couldn’t exit the checkout area and screamed that she would stay right there, yelling as loud as she wanted, until all their customers left… I stood at a distance, pulled out my phone and wordlessly began filming.”
The viral video did not capture any of the interactions between Hunter and the store employees, which Sprague said went on for about 15 minutes. The clip begins with Hunter realizing she is being recorded. She turned to Sprague, with her arms crossed, and asked, “Do you really need this? What do you want to do, post it for you?” Hunter added, “How ’bout that” and flipped Sprague the bird. After a brief pause, Hunter then walked closer to Sprague and coughed on her.
Sprague further explained on Facebook that Hunter had two small children with her at the time. As Hunter walked out of the store, she can be heard saying over her shoulder, “You’re lucky I don’t kick you.” According to a Victim Crime report obtained by First Coast News, Hunter also knocked over a sign as she left the store.
Hunter Faces a Battery Charge & Sprague Told Deputies She Wants Hunter to Be Tested For the Coronavirus
As of this writing, Hunter has not been arrested, according to a national inmate database. She has also not been formally charged, based on public court records in Duval County, Florida. According to the report that was filed June 29 with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Hunter faces a possible battery charge.
The charge was listed as “Battery — touch or strike, no injury,” which is a first-degree misdemeanor. In Florida, first-degree misdemeanor battery is punishable by up to one year behind bars, 12 months probation and/or a $1,000 fine if convicted. A victim does not have to be physically injured for the charge to apply.
Sprague initially filed an incident report with Pier 1 after the confrontation with Hunter. Sprague explained she hadn’t immediately called the police because she hadn’t wanted to “make a knee jerk reaction.” Sprague also told investigators she had “not been feeling well since the incident.”
According to a Victim Crime report obtained by First Coast News, Sprague is requesting that Hunter be tested for the coronavirus. Sprague told the TV station she has also been tested for the virus and is awaiting the results.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office report states Hunter is 52 years old and lives in Fernandina Beach, which is located in Nassau County and is part of the greater Jacksonville area. Investigators identified Hunter using information Pier 1 had on file related to the items Hunter had purchased. Her identity was further verified using the plate on her vehicle.