Armed Man

Springfield police respond to a Walmart in Springfield, Mo., Thursday afternoon, Aug. 8, 2019, after reports of a man with a weapon in the store. Police in Springfield, Missouri, say they have arrested an armed man who showed up the Walmart store wearing body armor, sending panicked shoppers fleeing the store. 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Five days after 22 people were killed at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, panicked shoppers fled a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri, after a man carrying a rifle and wearing body armor walked around the store before being stopped by an off-duty firefighter.

No shots were fired and the man was arrested after surrendering Thursday, Springfield police said. No one was injured.

The Springfield News-Leader quoted Lt. Mike Lucas as saying that the man arrived Thursday afternoon wearing body armor and military-style clothing. He walked inside the Walmart carrying a “tactical rifle” and another gun. Lucas said the man had more than 100 rounds of ammunition.

Lucas said an off-duty firefighter held the suspect — a 20-year-old man who was not immediately identified — at gunpoint until police arrived about three minutes after receiving an initial call.

“Thankfully, there weren’t any shots fired. I think it’s great that that off-duty fire man was here,” Lucas said.

Lucas said the suspect would be charged but the exact crimes would be determined later. Security video from inside the store would be reviewed to determine the man’s demeanor and a possible motive, he said.

“His intent obviously was to cause chaos here, and he did that,” Lucas added.

The potential charges against the man will depend on his actions while he was in the store, said Dee Wampler, a longtime Springfield defense attorney and former Greene County prosecutor.

Carrying an assault rifle in public is not necessarily a crime, Wampler told The News-Leader.

“If he was looking at people in a menacing way or if he was saying something to other customers that was frightening to them — those would be factors” and could result in felony charges, Wampler said.

He also could be charged with a misdemeanor peace disturbance, or a different misdemeanor if he was told to leave the store and didn’t, Wampler said.

Springfield is about 165 miles south of Kansas City, Missouri.

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