LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A Las Vegas man looking to gain social media notoriety filmed himself pretending to suffer from COVID-19 symptoms at a valley Walmart. He was quickly arrested for the prank.
“I see the shelves empty. I see people with masks all on their face,” said Gregory Hill. “Then I came up with the idea, like wow, people are really taking this serious.”
At the time, Hill said he wasn’t taking it seriously. He said his head was filled with misinformation from bloggers and conspiracy theorists.
“My idea from social media is like, it’s not that serious,” Hill said. “From what I’ve seen, it’s fake and the government came up with it and all that. That’s what I was thinking.”
Hill said he thought people were overreacting.
“I come up with a prank. I start coughing around people, trying to see their reactions, trying to scare them kind of sort of,” Hill said. “I thought it would be a viral video, you know what I’m saying … but, it’s not.”
He said before he could leave the Walmart on March 22, he saw police running through the store with masks on and guns drawn. Hill was taken to jail on several felony charges where he says his eyes were also opened.
“When I was in jail being forced to watch the news - seeing these body counts, this person dying, that person dying - I’m like holy crap! This is really serious. I really did make a mistake.”
Hill’s mistake has him even more cooped up than the rest of the valley until his next court date.
“I got this ankle bracelet after doing jail time. Off of a joke, I got three felonies off of what I thought was a joke and it’s not a joke. It’s not a game. There’s real people dying out there,” he said.
Hill is facing one count of first-offence burglary, one count of destroying property of another and two counts of dispersing of a hoax substance, according to his court records. He was also ordered to stay away from the Walmart on South Rainbow Boulevard as a condition of his bail.
He's scheduled for a preliminary hearing next week.
“I want to apologize to everybody affected by it because my attitude is definitely more serious about it now. Like I said, I’m a father of four. Now I have three felonies. I’ve got a burglary and two hoax charges which is going to affect me to have jobs in the future and all that. So, my attitude on it is definitely serious right now. It’s serious and I’m praying for everybody who got it. I’m praying for the whole country.”
Hill said he’s been warned that a judge could try to make an example out of him with time in a penitentiary on the table.