Texas ‘freedom defender’ who rallied against COVID-19 measures dies
A Texas “freedom defender” who led campaigns against COVID-19 measures has died after trying to treat his own infection — just weeks before the birth of his fourth child.
Caleb Wallace, 30, started “The San Angelo Freedom Defenders” and organized “end the COVID tyranny” rallies opposing mask and vaccine rules and to “secure God-given and constitutionally protected rights.”
“I care more about freedom than I care about your personal health,” he told City of San Angelo officials at a meeting last November, admitting he had been “bombarding” them with complaints.
His “freedom” group — which also compiled lists of local businesses requiring masks so members could avoid them — has gone offline since his sickness and death, the San Angelo Standard-Times noted.
Wallace first fell ill on July 26 — but refused to get tested or go to the hospital, his 8-months-pregnant wife, Jessica Wallace, told the local paper.
He instead took high doses of Vitamin C, zinc, aspirin and ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medicine normally used to deworm animals that health officials have urged people not to take to treat COVID-19.
“He was so hard-headed,” his wife told the Standard-Times. “He didn’t want to see a doctor, because he didn’t want to be part of the statistics with COVID tests.”
Within days, he was rushed to an emergency room by a relative, with his wife detailing heartbreaking calls their young children made to their dad as he lay unconscious for nearly a month.
She announced on an online fundraiser page Saturday that “Caleb has peacefully passed on.”
“He will forever live in our hearts and minds,” she wrote, telling the local paper, “At the end of the day, whether he was a hardcore conservative or not, he was an amazing man.”
Wallace leaves behind three young children, Brooke, 5, Aubrey, 3, and Kate, 1. His fourth child — a “wiggle worm” the couple had already named Emsley Jean Wallace — is due Sept. 27, his wife said.
A day before his death, his wife had posted on the family’s GoFundMe page that her husband “was an imperfect man but he loved his family and his little girls more than anything.”
“To those who wished him death, I’m sorry his views and opinions hurt you. I prayed he’d come out of this with a new perspective and more appreciation for life,” wrote his wife.
“I can’t say much more than that because I can’t speak for him,” she said of her late husband.
Jessica Wallace told the Standard-Times that her views “are less conservative” than her husband, who was also the coordinator for the West Texas Minutemen paramilitary group.
“Caleb would tell me, ‘You know masks aren’t going to save you,’ but he understood I wanted to wear them. It gives me comfort to know that maybe, just maybe, I’m either protecting someone or avoiding it myself,” she told the paper.
Even before her husband’s death, she called his sickness a “humbling, eye-opening experience,” telling the Standard-Times, “It’s made us realize that COVID-19 does not discriminate.”
Wallace’s father, Russell Wallace, told the New York Times that he still stood by his son’s stance against mask and vaccination mandates — but would now “look into” getting inoculated.
“Personally for me, I’m not so hesitant about the vaccinations now,” said the dad, who had also been hospitalized for 13 days with an infection.
“I’ve stared down that barrel and quite honestly, it scared the hell out of me,” Russell Wallace told the paper.
With Post wires