Man wore KKK hood as face covering to California grocery store, sheriff investigating

The shopper "chose an inflammatory method of wearing a face covering," a Vons supermarkets spokesperson. He refused repeated requests to remove the hood until he was at checkout.

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By Tim Stelloh and Ben Kesslen

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department is investigating an incident of a grocery store shopper's wearing what appeared to be a Ku Klux Klan hood as a face covering, officials said Monday.

Photographs that circulated on Facebook and Twitter showed an unidentified white man in cargo shorts and running shoes in the produce aisle of a Vons supermarket in Santee, a San Diego suburb, over the weekend.

A Vons supermarkets spokesperson said the man refused repeated requests by store employees to remove the hood until he was in the checkout area.

"Unfortunately, an alarming and isolated incident occurred at our Vons store in Santee, where a customer chose an inflammatory method of wearing a face covering," said spokesperson Melissa Hill. "This was a disturbing incident for our associates and customers, and we are reviewing with our team how to best handle such inappropriate situations in the future."

An order that went into effect last week requires everyone in San Diego County to wear a face covering in public.

The county sheriff said in a statement Monday that detectives are looking into the incident.

"The Sheriff's Department does not condone hate or any acts of intolerance in our communities. We are a county that is welcoming of people from all backgrounds," the statement said.

Others similarly issued statements of condemnation.

Santee Mayor John Minto said the city won't "tolerate such behavior."

"This particular individual's actions are not representative of us as a people and a wonderful city," the mayor wrote in a statement.

In a tweet Monday, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, Tammy Gillies, said the incident recalled a shooting at a synagogue in the nearby city of Poway last year that left one person dead and three injured.

“We must ALL continue to stand up together against hate in our community and in our world,” she said.

Matthew Mulligan contributed.