‘No shooting at Walmart’: Person legally armed with gun, one with scissors get into altercation; bystander injured

‘No shooting at Walmart’: Person legally armed with gun, one with scissors get into altercation; bystander injured
Units with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office responded to the scene of a reported shooting at the Walmart on Burbank Drive. (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Authorities released the names of the suspects connected to an incident that caused chaos in a Walmart store on Burbank Drive.

On Wednesday, Aug. 7, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office identified Jacob Bess, 32, and Robert Tucker, 44, as the suspects. Tucker was arrested, while Bess was issued a misdemeanor summons for disturbing the peace. Tucker was also charged with aggravated assault with a firearm.

According to the report from EBRSO, Tucker was arrested in the parking lot of Walmart on Burbank Drive Tuesday, Aug. 6 during the reported incident. The report stated detectives learned Tucker was a concealed carry permit holder.

Authorities arrested Tucker in the parking lot of Walmart during the incident. They found that he had a semi-automatic handgun in his possession.
Authorities arrested Tucker in the parking lot of Walmart during the incident. They found that he had a semi-automatic handgun in his possession. (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office)

At around 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday, dispatch received several calls about reports of a shooting at the Walmart. Deputies evacuated the building, set up a perimeter, and conducted a search inside the store. One person was injured while trying to flee the store. No one was shot, EBRSO officials say.

Officials go on to say initial findings indicate Tucker was legally carrying a firearm and was acting in self-defense.

In his interview with detectives, Tucker says he got into a verbal argument with Bess near the customer service area. Tucker claims Bess tried to get Tucker to leave the store to fight. The man left the store, but Tucker stayed inside. The report states Tucker told investigators he heard someone say “gun" and removed his gun from his waistband and pointed it at Bess, who was approaching Tucker.

Tucker told investigators he believed Bess was unarmed and lowered his gun. A witness at the scene, however, claims Bess was armed with scissors and appeared to be “moving with purpose,” the report states.

Witnesses told authorities Tucker didn’t make any threats and did not point his gun at anyone else in the store.

Tucker says he exited the store after seeing Bess leave the store. Tucker was then taken into custody in the parking lot, the report states.

Detectives reviewed surveillance video, which showed the men getting into a verbal argument. At one point, Bess left the store and returned a few minutes later, grasping something in his hand. Investigators initially could not identify what was in his hand.

Customers were seen running out of the store.

When Bess turned around to leave the store, he dropped a pair of scissors, the report states about surveillance findings.

East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said in a press conference on Tuesday at the crime scene that the altercation between the men erupted to the point where they pulled weapons on each other.

“I want to let everybody know that this was not an active shooter,” Gautreaux said. “Thank God this was nothing like anywhere near what they faced in El Paso or anything like this.”

EMS personnel say there were no patients transported from the Walmart. Authorities say a victim drove himself to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and was treated and released.

EBRSO released a statement Tuesday afternoon clarifying what was initially believed to be a shooting incident at the Walmart on Burbank Drive.

The statement reads:

"On today’s date, the Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call in which the caller stated, ‘there are two black males in the Wal-Mart 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."

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