Flat earth car

A Denton police spokesperson confirmed the man who wrote “COVID hoax” outside a Walmart on Wednesday morning was the man with pro-flat Earth signage on his car, pictured here.

A Denton police spokesperson has confirmed the man who wrote “COVID hoax” outside a Walmart on Wednesday morning was the man with pro-flat Earth signage on his car and outside his home.

A caller told police the man was writing phrases on the concrete in the parking lot and being disrespectful to guests and employees, according to a police report. A manager at the Walmart on University Drive informed police Wednesday there was also an incident not too long ago when someone wrote the phrase and employees had to clean it up.

The manager told police she has seen the man, Patrick Burke, on the property before, but the report doesn’t specify if she believes he was involved in the first incident. The report synopsis said she told officers an individual has been marking on the store’s lot without permission frequently. There’s also security footage showing a man writing something on the ground Wednesday, the report says.

According to the report, officers went to the man’s house after receiving a description of his vehicle and picture of the license plate. The vehicle was a silver hatchback with a flag, writing and stickers.

A man outside the home matched the description given to police, and the report says he became defensive when officers explained why they were there, saying he was allowed to express his First Amendment rights even on private property when it’s accessible to the public. He didn’t agree with officers’ explanation that what he did was a criminal offense, according to the report.

The report says officers filled out a citation and criminal trespass notice, but the man refused to sign it, so they left copies of both in his mailbox.

There were posts on social media in mid-July showing his home was defaced with the words “wear a mask,” but it was never reported to police.

ZAIRA PEREZ can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @zairalperez.

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