Local man steals COVID-19 sample from Sutter Davis, impersonates CDC official

Local man steals COVID-19 sample from Sutter Davis, impersonates CDC official

Photo Credits: Davis Police Department. A surveillance image shows a man suspected of stealing a COVID-19 sample from a Davis hospital.

Shaun Lamar Moore, 40-year-old Davis resident, arrested, charged with possession of restricted biological agent, burglary 

On Saturday, April 11, a man stole a COVID-19 specimen from Davis Sutter Hospital before abandoning it at a local pharmacy, an act that gained national media attention amid the coronavirus pandemic. The sealed specimen was recovered later that evening, and Shaun Lamar Moore, a 40-year-old Davis resident, was arrested the next day in connection to the incident. 

Late Saturday morning, Moore allegedly left the hospital carrying a lab specimen of COVID-19, but raised suspicion with hospital staff when they saw him leaving on his bike. The hospital staff’s concerns were amplified “when the actual courier arrived several minutes later,” according to The Davis Enterprise

Davis Deputy Police Chief Paul Doroshov discussed the police department’s response when they were notified of the incident. 

“Patrol officers responded to the hospital, and they made an initial assessment as to what’s going on based on the facts,” Doroshov said. “When there was a higher level of concern, the command staff was notified, and we responded — detectives too.”

Police patrols were sent out in search of the culprit, and the specimen was found abandoned later that day in a shopping cart at the CVS Pharmacy on West Covell Boulevard. A crime alert issued by the Davis Police Department mentions that there was no evidence the sealed specimen had been tampered with.

“Officers retrieved the specimen and Sutter Davis Hospital was able to confirm it was the missing specimen,” the statement read. “The lab also confirmed that several layers of protective packing were secure and the specimen had not been tampered with.”

Doroshov elaborated on how the Davis Police Department collaborated with Sutter Davis Hospital to determine the stolen specimen’s risk to public safety. 

“The sample was packaged twice, so there were two layers of plastic packaging the sample was in,” Doroshov said. “Each layer had some type of security seal on it. Sutter Davis subsequently looked at that and said the security seal does not look like it had been tampered with.”

Sutter Davis Hospital opened an internal investigation into the incident, according to an emailed statement from a Sutter Health spokesperson.

“Sutter Davis Hospital is committed to providing high-quality care to the Yolo County community and beyond,” the statement read. “We take this situation very seriously. We are conducting our own internal investigation, as well as working closely with county officials and law enforcement on the matter.”

The next morning, police officers spotted Moore biking on the Richards Boulevard overpass, and he was taken into custody. In a crime alert detailing the arrest, Davis Police Department officials mentioned that they were unsure of his motives; however, they do not believe his intent was to cause harm. 

“Davis Police are familiar with Moore and are determining whether any mental health conditions played a factor in this incident,” the statement read. “Although the incident is very serious, Detectives do not believe he intended to harm himself or others.”

When asked about Moore’s motives for stealing the specimen, Doroshov could not disclose any information as the case is active and “still under investigation.” In The Davis Enterprise article, the bail motion from Moore’s case explains how he allegedly impersonated a federal employee from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to obtain the sample from the hospital. 

Yolo Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg, who oversaw Moore’s bail hearing, outlined certain restrictions for Moore now that he is released on bail, according to The Davis Enterprise.

“He ordered that Moore, who is homeless, be fitted with a GPS monitoring device and stay at least 100 yards away from Sutter Davis Hospital,” the article states. 

Moore is charged with two felonies and one misdemeanor: attempted possession of a restricted biological agent, second-degree burglary and petty theft by false pretenses. His next court hearing will be on May 27.

Written by: Madeleine Payne — city@theaggie.org