Wayne Lee Padgett of Valrico, Florida told authorities he was “intrigued” by the recent shootings that took place in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas over the weekend. His fascination with the terrorist attacks prompted him to call into a Gibsonton Walmart Supercenter and threaten to shoot up the place.
Managers at the Walmart received a call around 1:17 p.m., from what sounded like a man, who threatened to enter the store and shoot everyone. The store quickly evacuated nearly 1,000 shoppers and called the Sheriff’s Department for assistance.
Five patrol deputies arrived at the scene within minutes, through the chaos in the parking lot. The deputies assessed that no one was hurt or acting suspiciously as they entered the store and checked for hidden people or weapons.
The threat was deemed not credible within an hour, and the location was reopened at 3:30 p.m., according to the Tampa Bay Times. Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said police were able to trace the threatening call to Padgett, whose mother reportedly works at the same Walmart location.
Padgett was arrested around 7 p.m. and is now being charged with felony false report of using a firearm in a violent manner. Authorities said that no firearms were found at his home and he did not have a criminal history.
The 31-year-old was being held in Hillsborough County jail on $7,500 bail, however, has since posted and is now being evaluated at a local medical facility under the Baker Act.
Chronister said, “These criminals that seek to make us afraid to go shopping, to the movies, concerts, work, and school are nothing but terrorists. This type of behavior will not be tolerated. We will pursue justice to the fullest extent of the law.”
Two Walmart employees were killed last week in a separate shooting at a Walmart in Southaven, Mississippi, according to Business Insider.