A Florida man who threatened to "shoot up" a Walmart on Sunday said he was inspired by recent mass shootings at the store — including an attack on Saturday that killed 22 people in El Paso, Tx.
Wayne Padgett, whose mother is an employee at the Walmart in Gibsonton, Fla., was arrested on Sunday, according to Business Insider. He is charged with making a false report of using a firearm in a violent manner.
Padgett, 31, reportedly called the store Sunday, saying he would be there in five minutes and that he planned to "shoot up your store," according to Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
The building was immediately evacuated, according to WFTS-TV. Authorities quickly determined that the call was not credible, but said that the evacuation was necessary due to recent events.
"This type of behavior seeks to instill fear in people and it will not be tolerated," Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister told WFTS. "These criminals that seek to make us afraid to go shopping, to the movies, concerts, work and school are nothing but terrorist."
Chronister said that Padgett told police he was "intrigued" by the mass shootings that had occurred over the past several days. Padgett specifically cited Saturday's shooting in El Paso, which also took place at a Walmart.
Sunday morning, a gunman opened fire at a bar in Dayton, Ohio, just hours before Padgett placed his threat. That incident killed nine people and sent dozens more to the hospital.
Just hours after a false threat was made at the Walmart in Gibsonton, we’ve arrested Wayne Lee Padgett. He is charged with False Report Of Using A Firearm In A Violent Manner(a felony). pic.twitter.com/KkR2aXNLKf— HCSO #teamhcso (@HCSOSheriff) August 5, 2019
Two Walmart employees were also killed during a shooting in Mississippi two weeks ago, when a disgruntled co-worker entered the store and opened fire.
Upon his arrest, Padgett admitted to calling Walmart from a blocked number, however he denied making any threats. Police searched his home and did not find any firearms.
Still, authorities said they are treating the situation with the utmost seriousness.
“A threat like this is never funny. Especially today, it is not funny at all. We take it very seriously and this is a felony,” Amanda Granit, a spokesperson for the sheriff's department told WFLA-TV. “This person is going to go to jail.”