Update: The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Department has released a statement indicating that some details remain unclear following an alleged shooting at a Walmart store on Tuesday.
The full statement:
″On August 6, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call in which the caller stated, “There are two black males in the Walmart on Burbank shooting.” Shortly thereafter, Sheriff’s Deputies arrived to find a very chaotic scene.
″Panicked customers were running from the front and rear entrances to the store, and told initial responding Deputies that they could hear “popping” sounds that they believed to be gun shots. Sheriff’s Deputies entered the store, and made an initial security search of the store, to ensure there were no shooting victims in the store, and there was not an active shooting incident that was ongoing. At the same time, another 911 caller advised that Deputies had detained one of the suspects involved in the incident. This suspect was found to be in possession of a handgun. Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office received information that someone had arrived at a local hospital transported by private vehicle with what was believed to be gunshot wounds. This was reported by the injured victim to hospital emergency room personnel.
″A second security sweep of the store was conducted by EBRSO & BRPD Swat personnel, and found the store to be secure. At this point, investigators began gathering witness statements, interviewing store employees, and reviewing store surveillance video. Upon reviewing the video, investigators determined initial information obtained from eyewitnesses, and the 911 calls, was not accurate. Investigators have determined that an altercation did occur in the Customer Service area of the store between two males, where weapons were drawn. When customers saw the handgun, panic set in, and customers were running and screaming while trying to exit the store. Many witnesses have reported hearing “popping” noises during the incident. A forensic examination of the weapon taken from the detained suspect will be conducted. The second suspect involved in the initial altercation ran from the store and has not been located as of yet. The investigation is ongoing, and investigators still have video to review and compare to eyewitness statements.
″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. The national climate regarding these incidents has the nation on edge, and citizens’ anxiety levels much higher than normal. We are in a position that we must respond according to our protocols and training to ensure that we are keeping our citizens safe. I would like to personally thank all of our law enforcement partners, on the local, state, and federal levels, as well as all medical and fire department personnel for the tremendous response to this incident. Preliminary investigation results gathered are that a shooting incident did not occur, however the investigation is ongoing. We will update with any further developments from this incident.″
Earlier: A bystander sustained gunshot wounds after an argument broke out between two patrons at a Walmart in Baton Rouge on Tuesday.
One suspect is currently in custody, while the other remains at large.
The victim is a 42-year old father who was in line buying a lunchbox for one of his children. He received multiple gunshot wounds and was transferred to a local hospital where he is in stable condition, according to East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux.
The initial reason for the altercation is unknown.
“It escalated to both of then pulling guns and one of them firing shots. We think the guy at large is the one who fired the shots, but we won’t know until we get him in custody,” Gautreaux said.
The suspect at large was wearing a black shirt and black shorts. Law enforcement has expanded their search perimeter and asks that local residents remain aware of their surroundings and notify them in case they have any information regarding the shooting.
Walmart employees are required to take courses in case of an active-shooter scenario.
“Every 90 days we have an active shooter [course], and I’ve been thinking about it ever since I’ve been taking it,” Gregory Degrate, a Walmart employee said.
However, even with their training the impact of this event is inevitable.
“After all that happened in Texas and some of these other Walmarts . . . it’s really surprising and shocking that we came that close like that,” Degrate said.
But local law enforcement and emergency responders understand the potential impact and train year-round for these situations. Thanks to their training, the initial responders arrived within four minutes of the 9-1-1 call, according to Gautreaux.
“I think they responded very quickly. I think they did a great job in their response time, because by the time I came out the door, within two or three minutes I saw officers arrive,” Degrate said. “They did a great job.”