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‘This is criminal’: Video appears to show man spitting on elevator buttons in Vancouver

Global News logo Global News 2020-04-11 Sean Boynton
a person standing in front of a screen: Once the elevator doors open, the man spits what appears to be a gob of saliva onto the buttons before slowly exiting into the hallway. © Still from Submitted Video Once the elevator doors open, the man spits what appears to be a gob of saliva onto the buttons before slowly exiting into the hallway.

A Vancouver woman is outraged and disgusted after seeing video of a man allegedly spitting on the buttons of an elevator car in her Olympic Village condo building — which she says is inexcusable amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Marie Hui, who lives in the building at First Avenue and Quebec Street as a short-term renter, went to Twitter and posted security footage that appears to show the shocking incident, which she did not film or witness.

However, she tells Global News she first saw the spit-covered buttons in a photo another resident posted to the building's private Facebook group last Saturday, leading her to believe that's when the incident took place.

READ MORE: ‘I feel I’m a bit radioactive’: Vancouver ER doctor reflects on his recovery from COVID-19

She said she believes she saw the aftermath of the spit herself that weekend, but admits she was distracted by her one-year-old son.

"I thought maybe it was cleaner, like streaks of cleaner, so I didn't think anything of it until I saw that photo," she said.

Hui says the video was sent to her this week by a friend who is not associated with the building, but knows she lives there.

It shows a man enter the elevator while carrying plastic bags, riding up to the eighth floor. The man waves what appears to be a fob over an electronic reader before pressing the floor button.

Once the doors open at the eighth floor, the man spits what appears to be a gob of saliva onto the button panel before slowly exiting into the hallway.

"I was just completely disgusted and appalled, especially during this time of the pandemic," Hui said.

"During any time, even not during a pandemic, it would be disgusting. But I think it's just that much more elevated now."

Health officials and researchers have repeatedly warned that the novel coronavirus — and COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus — is spread by droplets expelled from the mouth and nose.

Hui says the man's actions put the wider community at risk and is concerned for her family's safety.

READ MORE: B.C. mayor wants cities to be allowed to enforce COVID-19 orders

While she says the man didn't appear to be suffering from any sickness, she pointed to recent research that shows asymptomatic people may be carrying the novel coronavirus and can spread it to others.

"If he's doing this inside an elevator, inside an apartment building he lives in, he could be doing this anywhere else where there's public access," she said.

"In my opinion, this is criminal, especially during this time."

The video was also posted to the building's Facebook group, and other residents told Global News that they're doing their best to remain calm and not resort to "mob justice."

"Everybody in the building is on edge," said one man who wouldn't give his name, while cautioning against attacking the man involved.

"We don't know if this person has mental issues or what's going on in his head to make him do something like this. ... But all we can do is band together and stay positive and handle this responsibly."

The man and other residents said they are "100 per cent" certain the incident happened in their building.

READ MORE: B.C. man in hot water for filming himself ‘investigating’ COVID-19 test site, hospital

Hui says she believed the strata council has obtained the video and has contacted the man, who she could not identify but is sure is a resident because of the fob seen in the video. She says he also entered the elevator from an underground parking level.

She says the strata could not do anything other than fine him, however.

Global News has reached out to the building's strata leaders for comment.

Hui's tweet attracted the attention of Vancouver police, who replied to her on Saturday and asked Hui to reach out to investigators.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Police to verify Canadians complying with quarantine order, RCMP says

Hui says she had already contacted police by that point and a file has been opened, but says she was told there was not much that could be done.

"They said they don't have the rights to go up to the eighth floor and knock on everybody's door to try and find this guy," she said. "Apparently there's nothing criminally wrong with what he did."

Vancouver police have not confirmed what further action could be taken in the investigation, if any.

Although Hui says she's confident the building is clean and safe, she's concerned that other public spaces in Olympic Village and even beyond could see the impacts of the man's behaviour.

"Seeing this, and seeing actual video footage of someone in our elevator actually doing this is enraging, and it makes me scared to go and touch anything," she said.

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