Innocent shoppers instantly felt the panic and ran for their lives, hiding behind any place they could find around the store.
At a time, when the feeling of safety and security in the country have been shaken to the core, one man, with a gun and good intentions, was able to stop another man who also had a gun but with very different intentions. On August 8, just five days after three mass shootings, a man in his twenties pulled up in front of the Walmart in Springfield, bearing a body armor and military fatigues, as reported by KY3.
The man walked into the store and started pushing a cart through the aisles, and police reported that he was recording himself on a cell phone as he did so. He was even making comments to shoppers as he pushed the cart around. Armed with a “tactical rifle", another gun, and over 100 rounds of ammunition, the man walked around the Neighborhood Market unflinchingly. The store manager pulled a fire alarm, signaling people to flee for their lives. And they did not think twice before heeding the warning.
Many of the frightened shoppers hid outside the store and at nearby spots. The armed man tried to make a run for it by heading out an emergency exit. But this is where he got caught. An off-duty firefighter held him at gunpoint until the police arrived within 3 minutes of the call. No shots were fired, according to The Washington Times.
"His intent was not to cause peace or comfort to anybody that was in the business," Lt. Mike Lucas with the Springfield Police Department said, according to The Daily Wire. "In fact, he’s lucky to be alive still to be honest."
There's absolutely no public place where people in America can feel a hundred percent safe. The people who saw the armed man in Springfield felt panic rush through them, a feeling they shouldn't feel when they do something as mundane as buying groceries. Julie Belew had driven down that afternoon to the same Walmart to buy some milk, according to USA Today. But before she could get out of her vehicle, she heard someone shout, "Is that a real rifle?"
She could see the young man walking with the rifle with his hands raised while another man with a handgun, who she now believes is the off-duty firefighter, was just near her car.
Julie Belew heard someone shout at the suspect, "Why are you walking around in a tactical jacket carrying a rifle?"
Whatever his motive might have been, the armed man was able to spark a wave of terror among people who are growing more and more afraid by the day to step out of their homes. Julie Belew said, "He did not seem surprised. He did not seem angry. He looked like he had accomplished whatever he wanted to accomplish."
"His intent obviously was to cause chaos here, and he did that," Lt. Mike Lucas said. One thing that makes it easier for the police to understand the man's behavior is the many cameras that are spread around the store. “Walmart has hundreds of cameras,” Lt. Mike Lucas said. “Every footstep he took here is going to chronical and document his actions.”
While it may be difficult to be fully sure of what the man's intent was, it's still a time where officials would refrain from taking chances. "We definitely have some crimes here," said Lt. Mike Lucas.
"An armed white male in his twenties was detained by an armed off-duty fireman until officers arrived on scene and took the suspect into custody," said a news release, by the Springfield Police Department. "No injuries were reported and no shots were fired. At this time, the investigation is on-going and we are working to determine his motives."
The chaotic incident took place just five days after 22 innocent people's lives were taken away by another gunman at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. It's a reminder for everyone to be extra careful no matter where you go and when you go.