New York bar patron, 80, shoved over mask request dies: prosecutor

Fox News Flash top headlines for October 6

An elderly man died after he hit his head and suffered a seizure during a fight over a face mask at a bar in upstate New York, officials recently said.

Rocco Sapienza, 80, confronted a patron at a bar on Southwestern Boulevard in West Seneca on Sept. 26 after the man allegedly refused to wear his face mask or covering while moving in and out of the watering hole and walking around inside, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said during a Monday afternoon press conference.

The person who allegedly shoved him now faces criminal charges.

“This may be a first in the country,” Flynn told reporters. “Unfortunately here in western New York at a bar in West Seneca last weekend, it resulted in a death of another human being and it resulted in a situation where, this afternoon, 65-year-old Donald Lewinski of West Seneca was arrested on criminally negligent homicide.”

Flynn said Lewinski was not wearing his mask regularly at the time. He and Sapienza, who was sitting at the bar, briefly exchanged words.

“The victim was seated at the bar and the victim was not happy that he was not wearing a mask and the victim apparently let him know verbally,” he said. But the pair then separated.

Lewinski allegedly continued moving around the bar without a mask when he wasn’t sitting down, prompting Sapienza to get up to confront him again.

“The defendant allegedly stood up from the barstool and pushed him with two hands – and he pushed him pretty hard. The victim went flying back, hit his head on the ground, on the floor of the bar,” Flynn said. “He was pretty much in a [sic] unresponsive condition right away. He went into a seizure right away there on the floor of the bar.”

The octogenarian never woke up, Flynn said. He died four days later.

“This was a shove that occurred without warning,” Flynn said. “From what I can see from the video the victim was not ready for the shove – he was not bracing himself.”

He later clarified that he believed the argument “wasn’t 100 percent mask-related”

The medical examiner’s office determined Sapienza suffered blunt force trauma to the head.

Lewinski was charged with criminally negligent homicide and is due to appear in court on Tuesday evening.

“We all see it for the past five or six months. We see these 'Karens' out there in Walmarts who aren’t wearing masks and who get in confrontations with people not wearing masks. We see it today on an airplane. We see it everywhere where people are confronting one another and having arguments about not wearing masks,” Flynn said during Monday’s press conference. “This escalated into a [sic] 80-year-old man passing away.”

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