A Florida man was arrested after calling his local Walmart and threatening to commit a mass shooting Sunday, and he told police he was “intrigued” by the mass murders over the weekend in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, according to the New York Post.
Wayne Lee Padgett of Gibsonton, Florida, caused a panic by calling a Walmart near his home, at which his mother was employed, and telling an employee he was armed and on his way.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said this type of threat will not be taken lightly, especially when people are on edge from the recent tragedies.
“After the events over the last week, we all fear for our safety to begin with, so to have an individual who for whatever reason wants to be a copycat, or wants to instill fear in people for whatever that motive may be is disturbing,” Chronister said during a press conference. “If you make any type of threat, know that your sheriff’s office is going to take it extremely seriously, expend whatever resources in a timely fashion to find that threat.”
Padgett has been charged with a felony count of a false report of using a firearm in a violent manner. No guns were found at his home.
His threat was particularly unnerving, coming within one day of a mass murder at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that resulted in the deaths of 20 people and injuries to 26 more. Walmart stores, which are often crowded, are currently even busier than normal as many parents take their kids on back-to-school shopping trips.
Nine more people were shot and killed in a mass murder in Dayton, during which the gunman opened fire around 1 a.m. Sunday on a crowded street lined with bars.
“This type of behavior seeks to instill fear in people and it will not be tolerated,” Chronister said.