Americans are on edge after a week of horrific gun violence.
Following the mass shooting Saturday at an El Paso Walmart that left 22 dead, a heated altercation involving a handgun at another Walmart store, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, had customers panicking and at least one ending up injured.
The incident began when one man approached a man and a woman standing in line at the store’s customer service desk, according to local Baton Rouge new outlet The Advocate. The man who approached said something unflattering to the woman, leading to an argument between the two men. The man in line went outside to retrieve a pair of scissors and returned to confront the other man.
The man who'd approached the pair was licensed to carry and pulled out his handgun whenhe saw the scissor-wielding patron. However, contrary to the initial 911 calls, the gun was not fired during the argument. The gun-toting perp was restrained by officers when they arrived on the scene.
Customers panicked as the men argued both inside and outside the Walmart, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said in a public statement. In audio from 911 calls published by NBC affiliate Baton Rouge Proud, you can hear people reporting shots fired.
“When customers saw the handgun, panic set in, and customers were running and screaming while trying to exit the store," the sheriff’s office said. "Given the recent events in El Paso and Dayton, and given the initial information we received via 911 calls and witnesses exiting the store, we responded with what we feel is appropriate."
More than 200 customers were evacuated from the store. At least one person sustained an injury while fleeing the Walmart. He was released from Baton Rouge General Tuesday afternoon.
Baton Rouge wasn’t the only place where people are fearful of another attack. At least two other incidents in New York City and Utah resulted in similar scenes of panic and disorder.
At around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, the sounds of a backfiring engine on a motorcycle in Times Square triggered panic in the densely populated commercial strip. Video captured at the time of the incident shows hundreds of people fleeing the busy tourist attraction in search of cover.
Within 30 minutes, the NYPD’s Midtown North Precinct clarified that there was never an active shooter in the area and that neighborhood was safe. At least 20 people were hurt as people scattered from loud popping sounds.
In West Valley City, Utah, the Valley Fair Mall was evacuated at around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday after police received reports of shots fired.
West Valley Police told a local NBC affiliate that the false alarm was triggered by the loud bang of a falling sign inside the mall. When someone yelled “Shots!” frenzied shoppers ran for their lives.
The West Valley City Police Department clarified that there was never an active shooter on the scene on Twitter.
Unlike the other two incidents, there were no injuries at the scene.
Cover: In this Aug. 4, 2019, file photo a Texas State Trooper walks back to his car while providing security outside the Walmart store in the aftermath of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. Like most retailers, Walmart is accustomed to the everyday dealings of shoplifters. Now, it’s confronting a bigger threat: active shooters. Days after a man opened fire at one of its stores in El Paso and left several dead, the nation’s largest retailer is faced with how to make its workers and customers feel safe. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton, File)