A 32-year-old St. Paul man has posted multiple Facebook videos of himself stealing Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines by pretending he wants to get vaccinated and walking out with the vials.
Thomas E. Humphrey said on the videos he’s a member of the sovereign citizen movement, which is an anti-government extremist group that believes they are sovereign from the U.S. He also said on a video that he lost his business and home last year due to pandemic restrictions, and now lives in a van with his dog. He says on another video he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but disagreed with the diagnosis.
Humphrey posted videos of himself walking into an Allina Health vaccination site in Oakdale and leaving with a vial of Pfizer vaccine, calling it poison. The following day, he posted a video of himself taking a vial of Johnson & Johnson vaccine from a CVS worker, again telling customers it’s poison.
The videos, which have racked up thousands of views and comments, underscore the struggle of elected officials and public health experts who are trying to encourage Minnesotans to get vaccinated, just days after Gov. Tim Walz said a 70% vaccination rate would lead to further easing of pandemic restrictions.
Humphrey finally caught the attention of Blaine police after police were called to a Kwik Shop, where he took all the free sugar packets to draw some kind of analogy to stealing the free vaccine. The officers didn’t seem to know anything about his vaccine theft, and arrested him because he didn’t have a valid license plate. (He doesn’t believe he’s bound by the law requiring them, he says in a video.)
According to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Department website, Humphrey was jailed and released Thursday. The site doesn’t say what he was arrested for, but on Humphrey’s Facebook video, officers told him he was being arrested for obstruction and misdemeanor violations.
The first video, filmed Tuesday, shows him in his van joking about putting on a mask to get into the vaccination site, and hiding his phone in his pocket while recording the incident.
“This is for the greater good,” Humphrey said before going inside. “There’s people lined up out here to take their vaccine; Ima take mine too.”
Humphrey then walked into the vaccination site and went through the process until it was time to get the shot. He asked to see the vaccine, then swiped it from the worker, took off his mask and said, “This is what they’re poisoning everybody with.”
A worker followed him out the door, telling him there were multiple doses in the vial.
“That’s how you take your vaccine, guys,” Humphrey said on the video afterward.
He encouraged his followers to do the same thing, saying “We’re putting an end to this (expletive).”
The following day, he recorded a video taking a vial of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from a CVS. Again he told people in the store it was “poisoning people” as he left.
That same day, he recorded a video of a trip to a laboratory, where he asked a microbiologist if he could get two vaccines tested. He was sent elsewhere.
Attempts to reach Humphrey were not successful.