A Virginia State trooper assigned to Fairfax County has resigned after he claimed in a text message that he intentionally coughed on a driver to spread the coronavirus. A separate criminal investigation into the trooper also is underway.
Trooper Jacob P. Gooch was placed on administrative leave in early May and later resigned, state police told News4 on Monday.
In a text exchange with his brothers in mid-April, Gooch said he issued a ticket to a driver who was a Mennonite and coughed on him “so he would spread Corona to the wedding they were going too. lol.”
State police said they take Gooch’s alleged actions seriously.
“The Department adheres to strict policies regarding employee conduct and requires our employees to perform their duties with exceptional professionalism and integrity, and to treat the public with fairness and respect at all times,” the department said in a statement.
Gooch was assigned to patrol the state’s Fairfax division and had been with the department for about a year. Police said they did not know if he tested positive for the coronavirus.
Police launched an internal investigation into Gooch after the texts were uncovered during a homicide investigation in Arizona.
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Gooch’s brother, Mark Gooch, pleaded not guilty last month to the murder of Sasha Krause, a 27-year-old Sunday school teacher who disappeared from a Mennonite community in New Mexico, the Associated Press reported.
Cellphone records linked Mark Gooch to Krause. Mark Gooch told investigators he and his brothers left a difficult, sheltered and restricted life as part of a family of Mennonite farmers in Wisconsin. He holds a grudge against the Mennonite community over perceived mistreatment, another of his brothers told investigators.
A criminal investigation into the former Virginia State trooper remains active and is unrelated to the homicide investigation, police said.