Officers saw Gray about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, told him to take the mask off and not put it on again. Gray removed it and asked why he could not wear it, according to Wheeling police reports. Officers told him wearing masks in public is illegal.
Gray said he felt he had a right to wear it and said it was not illegal. He put the mask back on and was arrested. The mask was confiscated.
Wheeling City Solicitor Rosemary Humway-Warmuth and Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith said masks as well as dark window tinting in vehicles can pose a safety hazard to law enforcement officers and hinder efforts to identify criminal suspects.
Smith said wearing a mask or hood in public is a misdemeanor under state law, punishable by a fine of up to $500 or up to a year in jail, or both. Children up to 16 years old can wear masks. Traditional Halloween masks, safety gear used in occupations, theatrical productions, civil defense or protection from bad weather also are legal.