Man in viral Fort Myers Costco video defends himself after outburst during face mask argument
The man captured in a viral video that showed him yelling at another customer during an argument about face masks at Gulf Coast Town Center Costco says the video does not show the full story.
Daniel Maples was recorded yelling “I feel threatened!” and “Back up! Threaten me again! Back the (expletive) up and put your (expletive) phone down!” while advancing toward the person recording the video.
Maples then turns around before the end of the recording of the incident, which took place June 27.
Since the video went viral, Maples has received hundreds of threatening texts, emails and voicemails, some even threatening his son’s life while others are publishing the address of his home online, Maples said.
“All I'm really asking for is a second chance at a first impression for people to know the real me and not take 15 seconds of my life and turn me into a demon,” Maples said.
Before the incident, Maples worked for Ted Todd Insurance in Fort Myers. He was fired from his job on Tuesday, according to a tweet from the company where he worked since 2016.
Maples said he doesn’t like wearing a mask because it’s uncomfortable.
“I don't wear the mask simply for the fact that after a while I start to feel like I'm suffocating. I get claustrophobic and that's an issue for me,” Maples said in an interview with the News-Press Friday. “I prefer not wear the mask. It's something that causes me a lot of distress.”
Infectious disease experts say wearing a mask is one of the best actions, along with social distancing and hand washing, to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Maples’ interaction with the man who recorded the video began at the back of the Costco before the video was recorded near the check-out area, Maples said.
During the interaction that wasn’t recorded, Maples said he was confronted by multiple people for not wearing a mask in the store.
“I never yelled at an old lady,” Maples said. “I remember someone saying something to me about I have cancer, I have cancer. I replied, well my father died of cancer. I didn't understand why she was yelling at me about that.”
During the first interaction at the back of the store, Maples said the man who would later take the video verbally assaulted him and told him he was killing people by not wearing a mask.
“I felt very threatened by multiple people,” Maples said. “For me it was like the mob was gathering around me and I felt threatened. I wanted to remove myself from the situation and I did.”
He walked away from the confrontation to meet his party at the front of the store then the man who recorded the video came toward him in an aggressive manner with his phone out, Maples said.
The man recording the video was large and was attempting to gather a crowd to confront Maples once again for not wearing a mask, Maples said.
He had no choice to yell at the man because he felt threatened by him, Maples said.
"Why does a dog bark? Or why does a snake rattle its tail? They don't want to bite,” Maples said. “My whole lifestyle is meditation and calmness and peace.”
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After the incident caught on video, Maples was asked to leave the store by a Costco employee and he complied, Maples said.
When asked why he didn’t shop at a store without a mask policy if he didn’t want to follow the rule, Maples said he went to Costco as a favor for a friend.
“I had no intentions of being there long,” Maples said. “I saw other shoppers not wearing masks. I saw the Costco employees not wearing masks. I keep my distance. I try to be polite if I'm not wearing a mask and I understand people are sensitive.”
What was captured in the video was a moment of pure passion and emotion so he couldn’t say why he advanced toward the man recording the video if he felt threatened by him, Maples said.
“I have no idea,” Maples said. “In that moment I was scared. I'm not a fighter, I'm not a person that deals with this on a daily basis. I don't know how to manage this.”
After the incident, his company did not do a thorough investigation of what happened at Costco before deciding to fire him, Maples said.
His direct manager called and told him to stop making phone calls for the company then a human resources representative called and told him he was terminated, Maples said.
In the video, Maples is wearing a red, “Running the world since 1776” T-shirt, dark shorts and flip flops. Maples said the T-shirt is not a political statement, as some online have concluded, but just a funny shirt he got for the Fourth of July.
He wasn’t really an avid Costco shopper to begin with, but Maples said he doesn’t have plans to return to the store.
What has happened to Maples since the incident is an example of a larger societal issue in which information that isn’t necessarily correct spreads online quickly, Maples said.
“It's a bigger issue than me,” Maples said. “It's not about me. It's about where are we going, is this OK and when does it stop.”
Roy Foxall, a Fort Myers attorney representing Maples, said he isn’t sure if he and Maples will take any legal action. Law enforcement was not involved in the incident.
If legal action were to be taken against anyone, it would be against Maples’ former employer, Foxall said.
"It's important to realize what I didn't do,” Maples said. “I never raised my hands, I never brandished a weapon, I made no racial slurs and I made no threats. What's my crime? What am I convicted of? I had enough of a crazy person screaming at me, so I had to help myself."
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