Chaos – but no gunfire – broke out at Louisiana Walmart
Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, August 7, 2019
Two men arguing at a Walmart customer service counter pulled guns on each other, setting off a stampede of panicked customers, some of whom thought there had been a shooting.
East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux says a preliminary investigation did not find any evidence of a shooting Tuesday at a Walmart store in Baton Rouge, though authorities are still investigating.
The incident occurred three days after a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, leaving 22 people dead and dozens injured.
Customers running out of the Louisiana store told deputies they had heard “popping” sounds which they thought were gunshots. Gautreaux says surveillance video showed two men pulling guns during an argument.
WBRZ-TV reports that two people have been arrested — Robert Tucker, 44, and Jacob Bess, 32.
Here’s the full statement from the sheriff’s office:
“On today’s date, the Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call in which the caller stated, “there are two black males in the Wal-Mart on Burbank shooting.” Shortly thereafter, Sheriff’s Deputies arrived to find a very chaotic scene.
Panicked customers were running from the front and rear entrances to the store, and told initial responding Deputies that they could hear “popping” sounds that they believed to be gun shots. Sheriff’s Deputies entered the store, and made an initial security search of the store, to ensure there were no shooting victims in the store, and there was not an active shooting incident that was ongoing. At the same time, another 911 caller advised that Deputies had detained one of the suspects involved in the incident. This suspect was found to be in possession of a handgun. Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office received information that someone had arrived at a local hospital transported by private vehicle with what was believed to be gunshot wounds. This was reported by the injured victim to hospital emergency room personnel.
A second security sweep of the store was conducted by EBRSO & BRPD Swat personnel, and found the store to be secure. At this point, investigators began gathering witness statements, interviewing store employees, and reviewing store surveillance video. Upon reviewing the video, investigators determined initial information obtained from eyewitnesses, and the 911 calls, was not accurate. Investigators have determined that an altercation did occur in the Customer Service area of the store between two males, where weapons were drawn. When customers saw the handgun, panic set in, and customers were running and screaming while trying to exit the store. Many witnesses have reported hearing “popping” noises during the incident. A forensic examination of the weapon taken from the detained suspect will be conducted. The second suspect involved in the initial altercation ran from the store and has not been located as of yet. The investigation is ongoing, and investigators still have video to review and compare to eyewitness statements.
Given the recent events in El Paso and Dayton, and given the initial information we received via 911 calls and witnesses exiting the store, we responded with what we feel is appropriate. The national climate regarding these incidents has the nation on edge, and citizens’ anxiety levels much higher than normal. We are in a position that we must respond according to our protocols and training to ensure that we are keeping our citizens safe. I would like to personally thank all of our law enforcement partners, on the local, state, and federal levels, as well as all medical and fire department personnel for the tremendous response to this incident. Preliminary investigation results gathered are that a shooting incident did not occur, however the investigation is ongoing. We will update with any further developments from this incident.”