The Michigan man accused of contaminating grocery store food has a history of mental illness and believes someone is trying to poison him, authorities said.
Kyle Bessemer, 29, allegedly admitted to mixing a Tomcat rodent poison with a water solution and putting it in a small hand sanitizer bottle, which he then used to spray salad bars and produce stands in the Ann Arbor area.
Surveillance footage from Whole Foods Market showed a man prosecutors said was Bessemer putting the liquid on avocados as he squeezed them, as if he was testing them for purchase.
Prosecutors said he also appeared to sway over the hot and salad food bars with the bottle in his hand, MLive reported.
“He’s going all over pouring this rat poison … knowing people are going to ingest it,” Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor John Reiser said while addressing Bessemer's bond Thursday. "He did it because he thought people were poisoning him – I mean that is a very scary crime that happened."
A federal investigation was launched after a Whole Foods employee allegedly spotted Bessemer dumping the liquid at the store.
Tips from the public led to Bessemer’s arrest on Tuesday after investigators circulated images of the suspect.
He was charged with four counts of poisoning food, though health officials say that he may have struck more than a dozen stores in the state. Receipts allegedly show Bessemer purchased the poison on multiple occasions in April.
There have been no reports of illness or injury stemming directly from products that may have been sprayed with the poison, but authorities warned consumers to throw out goods from affected stores’ food bars.
Prosecutors said further charges related to another possible grocery store contamination may be brought against Bessemer
If Bessemer is found guilty, he could face up to 20 years for each count he is charged with. He remains in jail on $250,000 bond and was ordered to go on house arrest if he posts bail.
He is scheduled to next appear in court on May 12 for a probable cause hearing.