Flint — When Sharmel Teague arrived at the Family Dollar across 5th Avenue from the University of Michigan-Flint’s William S. White building on Friday afternoon, she was wearing a protective mask.
Her daughter was not.
After security guard Calvin Munerlyn denied her daughter entry, and then denied Teague service, an altercation erupted that left the 43-year-old father dead of a gunshot wound to the head.
Police were hunting on Monday for two men accused of killing Munerlyn because they felt he “disrespected” the women by insisting Teague’s daughter wear a mask in the store as required by executive orders designed to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The case comes amid a bitter political battle regarding aspects of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s orders to combat the pandemic, which sparked at least two protests at the state Capitol and caught the attention of President Donald Trump. A day after the last demonstration last Thursday, Trump tweeted that Whitmer should “give a little” because Michiganians “want their lives back.”
While there was little question that the shooting at the Family Dollar was personal and not political, it is a high-profile byproduct of the pandemic that has killed at least 4,100 in Michigan even as measures to combat it remain controversial.
Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said Monday he charged Ramonyea Bishop, 23; Larry Teague, 44; and Sharmel Teague, 45, with first-degree murder in connection with Friday’s fatal shooting of Munerlyn at the Family Dollar store at 877 E. Fifth Ave.
Bishop and Larry Teague remained at large late Monday, Leyton said at a press conference in the Genesee County court building. Sharmel Teague is in custody and awaiting arraignment, although no date has been set.
According to Leyton, the violence was sparked when Munerlyn told Sharmel Teague’s daughter that she must comply with Whitmer’s shelter-in-place order regarding wearing masks in stores to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“From all indications, Mr. Munerlyn was simply doing his job in upholding the governor’s executive order related to the COVID-19 pandemic for the safety of store employees and customers,” Leyton said.
The incident started at 2:14 p.m. Friday, when Sharmel Teague and her unidentified daughter, who is in her 20s, entered the store, the prosecutor said.
“Sharmel Teague and Munerlyn … got into a verbal altercation after Munerlyn told Teague’s daughter that she needed to wear a face mask while inside the store,” Leyton said.
“Teague’s daughter left the store, but Teague began yelling at Munerlyn, who then told her to leave the store and instructed a cashier not to serve her,” the prosecutor said.
“There is surveillance video that confirms the altercation,” Leyton said.
The video shows Sharmel Teague leave the store in a red GMC Envoy and return about 20 minutes later with two men, Larry Teague — her husband — and Bishop, her son.
“Witnesses on the scene said they saw two black males enter the store wearing dark clothing,” Leyton said. “One of them started yelling at Mr. Munerlyn about disrespecting his wife. The other black male walks up and shoots Mr. Munerlyn. … Witnesses identified Bishop as the shooter.”
When police arrived, they found Munerlyn lying in the store, bleeding from a gunshot wound in the head. Munerlyn, a married father of six who also had three stepchildren, was taken to the Hurley Medical Center in Flint, where he was pronounced dead.
Bryant Nolden, a Genesee County commissioner and director of Bertson Field House, a Flint gymnasium, said he was longtime friends with Munerlyn, whom he described as a “gentleman.”
“This really broke my heart,” Nolden said. “He would come in three or four times a week and he’d train anyone who wanted to be trained for free. We have a senior dance, and he’d come and dance with the seniors.
“I hope (the suspects) are brought to justice, because this was extremely senseless and totally uncalled for,” he said. “He didn’t bother a soul. All he wanted was to take care of his family.
“This is a loss for the community, and for me as an individual,” Nolden said.
Whitmer’s extended stay-home order went into effect April 26 requiring face coverings in enclosed public spaces. No criminal penalties are attached to the order, but state officials strongly encourage customers to wear them.
Michigan reported nearly 44,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 4,100 deaths. In Genesee County, there are 1,634 cases and 196 deaths.
A GoFundMe page was created in the slain security guard’s honor. As of Monday afternoon, more than $25,000 was raised.
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