Police break down response to heavily armed man at Walmart in Springfield

Published: Aug. 8, 2019 at 11:17 PM CDT
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A heavily armed man wearing body armor prompted a large police response at a Springfield Walmart: Neighborhood Market, Thursday afternoon. Police say the armed man strolled the aisles while taking video of himself. It was a former firefighter who held the man at gunpoint for police, but not before the man caused frightened customers to bolt out of the store at Republic Rd. and Golden Ave.

Police say he parked and put on a vest. He was carrying a tactical rifle and a handgun when he walked inside.

"I knew something was wrong when I saw the employees, employees running for the doors. And they were screaming there was a gunman in the store, shooter in the store," said Tammy Lea, who was at the checkout line when she heard the screams, and saw the crowd running out of the store.

"People obviously were very concerned and started to panic. The store manager pulled the fire alarm and told people to evacuate the building," said Lt. Mike Lucas, with the Springfield Police Department.

Lucas says the man was carrying a tactical rifle, a hand gun, and more than one-hundred rounds of ammunition. He started pushing a shopping cart through the store, saying things to people, and videotaping it on his phone.

"He certainly had the capability and the potential to harm people. And then what has happened in Texas and Dayton and all that kind of stuff the last seven days, that is on everybody's mind," Lucas added. "His intent was to cause chaos here and he did that."

Police say the man walked through the store and followed some people out of a fire exit, and that is when a former firefighter was waiting for him with a gun of his own. He held the man at gunpoint until Springfield Police arrived.

"When you hear that, that is why we took the profession, we want to respond to a threat and save lives." Lucas said, about hearing the initial call of an active shooter.

The man did not fire any shots, and was arrested without any problems. The man was later booked into the Greene county jail.

Police say it could have had a different ending.

"He is lucky to be alive still to be honest," Lucas said. "​I am happy with the response, and thankfully there were no shots fired."

"Knowing that I was there and he was there at the same time... I am still shaking. It is just terrifying." added Lea.