The criminal complaint filed Wednesday against Ronald Avers said one buyer of boneless chuck roast at the Shop 'n Save store in Belleville just east of St. Louis later bit into one of the needles, and a needle slipped into a steak stuck another customer.
The affected meat products range from ground beef to roasts to steaks, reports the Belleville News-Democrat. An affidavit filed alongside the criminal complaint notes that Avers was identified via surveillance camera footage, allegedly "manipulating" packages of meat that he never purchased. Store security alerted the authorities Tuesday after the suspect entered the store on a motorized scooter with an oxygen tank in tow.
When approached by authorities, Avers clarified his actions, saying, "Every now and then, I would stick one in a hamburger." He explained further, stating, "Mostly hamburger, a couple of times I did it with a roast, maybe a pork chop every now and then."
Court documents state that Avers, described as a disabled veteran, concealed the needles in the holder for his oxygen tank prior to inserting it in the product.
Avers faces seven counts of tampering with consumer products, each of which holds a maximum of 10 years in prison. When presented with this fact in court on Thursday, Avers was reportedly shocked, shouting "Oh God!"
The suspect is currently jailed without bond and faces a hearing on Monday.