Cops: Man Assaults Fellow Bus Passenger Over Face Covering Argument

T.E. McMorrow

A woman was assaulted when she asked a fellow passenger on a county bus to put on a face covering on Thursday morning, according to Southampton Town police.

Police received a 911 call asking them to respond to the bus stop at the traffic circle at Peconic Avenue in Riverside. They found a 46-year-old woman with a laceration to her head. She had been riding a Suffolk County Transit bus when she asked a male passenger to put on a mask, police said.

A New York State mandate requires that people wear face coverings when they cannot maintain at least six feet of distance from one another. Face coverings have been shown to cut down on the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Suffolk County Transit requires all passengers wear face coverings while on board.

“The two had a verbal altercation and when both got off the bus, the male punched her causing the laceration,” a press release said.

Officers arrested Ernest Ryshaun Clay, 43, of Riverhead and he was charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.

According to records, Clay has served two terms in state prison. In 2012, he was sentenced to 18 to 36 months for attempted burglary. He was released on parole in 2015. Before that he was sentenced to three years in 2003 for attempted robbery.

The Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance Corps treated the woman at the scene. She was taken to the hospital.

T.E. McMorrow contributed reporting.

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