Authorities in Florida arrested a man who they claimed called into a Walmart and threatened to shoot it up, prompting an evacuation.
Wayne Lee Padgett, 31, allegedly called into a Walmart in Gibsonton on Sunday afternoon and told an employee that he was near the store and would be there to commit a shooting. The suspect’s mother works at that Walmart location and was on the clock when he placed the active shooter call, according to WFLA.
Within hours, law enforcement reportedly traced the call to Padgett and took him into custody. Despite his alleged threats, the news station reported that authorities didn’t find firearms at his home.
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Authorities have charged Padgett with felony false report of using a firearm in a violent manner.
“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 still fear in people for whatever that motive may be is disturbing,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said during a press conference, per WFLA.
“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.”
WTSP reported that Chronister said Padgett not only admitted to making the threatening call but told them he was “intrigued” by the two mass shootings this weekend. The two shootings—one at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and the other at a bar in Dayton, Ohio—left a total of 30 people dead and dozens injured.
“These criminals that seek to make us afraid to go shopping, to the movies, concerts, work, and school are nothing but terrorists,” Chronister commented. “This type of behavior will not be tolerated. We will pursue justice to the fullest extent of the law.”
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[Featured image: Wayne Lee Padgett/Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]