Adam Zaborowksi is a Pennsylvania man who Bethlehem police say refused to wear a mask in a cigar store, walked out without paying for his products and shot at the clerk. Police say Zaborowski then shot at them with an AK-47 when they pulled him over to arrest him on charges related to the cigar shop incident, according to The Washington Post.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Say Zaborowski Shot at a Store Clerk & Fled the Scene
According to police, the 35-year-old Zaborowski visited a Cigars International store in Bethlehem on July 31 without a mask, which was against both the store policy and the state’s mask mandate.
Police said that although staff told him all customers must cover their mouths and noses and even offered to take his order curbside, Zaborowski instead took two cigars and left the store without paying, according to the Washington Post.
An unidentified staff member then followed Zaborowski and asked him to return the cigars. In response, police say Zaborowski pulled out a semi-automatic handgun and fired one round into the air and two rounds at the staff person. The bullets did not injure anyone, and Zaborowski left the store in a blue Dodge Dakota, police said.
2. Zaborowski Was in a Shootout With Police Before He Was Taken Into Custody, Police Say
According to lehighvalleylive.com, police and Pennsylvania state troopers were outside Zaborowski’s home waiting on an arrest warrant at 9:35 p.m. the following day, August 1, when Zaborowski left in his truck, according to police and a witness.
Bill Rutt, a Slatington resident, told the outlet he saw the truck with officers in pursuit. According to police, when they pulled him over at the intersection of Second and East Washington streets, Zaborowski got out and began firing at officers. Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin said Zaborowski used “an AK-47 and an automatic pistol,” lehighvalleylive.com reported. Police said Zaborowski was in a shootout with seven officers, who shot back, hitting him in the leg and buttocks, The Washington Post reported.
“Police administered first aid to Zaborowski after the shooting,” lehighvalleylive.com reported, noting that no Pennsylvania state troopers were harmed and a Slatington police officer suffered minor injuries.
Zaborowski, who was arraigned from his hospital bed with nearly two dozen charges, had his bail set at $1 million, lehighvalleylive.com reported. He is charged with seven counts of attempted homicide, attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a gun despite a felony. The outlet also reported that Zaborowski is facing charges of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, robbery and reckless endangerment related to the cigar shop incident.
3. Zaborowski’s Lawyer Said His Client Was ‘Not Handling The Pandemic Well’
Defense Attorney John Waldron said he spoke with Zaborowski’s father, according to lehighvalleylive.com. Waldron, who said he has represented Zaborowski before, said Zaborowski’s father told him that his son had recently lost his job and a custody battle for his child.
“He just wasn’t dealing well with the loss of his job, the loss of his child, just not handling the pandemic well. I think he was getting stretched too tight,” Waldron told the outlet, adding that he wants Zaborowski to undergo mental health evaluations.
He also said Zaborowski is lucky to be alive:
They’re not shooting at your foot. They’re not shooting at your buttocks. It’s kill or be killed. So the fact that he got shot twice with non-life-threatening injures when he had an AK-47 and another handgun, Adam is very fortunate he ended up the way he did.
4. Some Have Compared Zaborowski’s Encounter With Police to Incidents Where Unarmed Black People Were Killed by Police
Some on social media have said that Zaborowski was spared because of “white privilege,” comparing the outcome of his encounter with police to those of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor; both Floyd and Taylor were killed in police encounters and did not receive immediate medical attention, as Now This reported.
“A white man named Adam Zaborowski sprayed his AK-47 at a bunch of police officers. He was arrested alive and awaits trial,” one person tweeted. “A black man named George Floyd bought some cigarettes using a fake $20 bill. He had a panic attack, was dragged around at gunpoint, and brutally lynched.”
“White privilege saved his life. He pulled out an AK-47 and started firing at police. Police shot him in the ass and carried him in alive. Adam Zaborowski fired at police with AK-47 after arguing over mask rules, police said – The Washington Post,” another person tweeted.
Despite Waldron’s statement that he knows Zaborowski as well as both of his parents — and that “this is not his typical behavior pattern” — others have not been very sympathetic and some have taken issue with the way the incident was reported.
One person tweeted, “You’re missing the point, which is about the way this guy’s situation was described in the story, not what happened at the scene. That description reflects an assumption that when white people snap, it’s sad & due to stress. Black people rarely get similar grace from reporters.”
5. Violence Related to Mask-Wearing Has Grown as the Coronavirus Pandemic Continues
Pennsylvania, like many other states around the country, has a mask mandate requiring that people wear masks indoors in response to the resurging coronavirus pandemic. The mandate came after incidents of violence against store employees began increasing as individual businesses instituted mandatory mask-wearing policies.
In Pennsylvania, Perkasie Borough police arrested a man who punched a cashier in the face after the cashier asked him to put on a mask. A woman in Dallas tossed several grocery items out of her cart after she was asked to wear a mask in a Fiesta supermarket, WFAA-8 reported.
In other incidents, a Trader Joe’s employee was beaten in New York after asking a customer to put on a mask, according to The Washington Post, and in another incident, police say an employee at a McDonald’s in Oklahoma was shot by a customer who was turned away because she wasn’t wearing a face mask and returned with a handgun.
A Target employee in California suffered a broken arm after helping remove two customers refusing to wear masks, and a security guard at a Michigan Family Dollar was shot and killed after he asked a customer to wear a mask.