In the week after multiple mass shootings claimed the lives of more than 30 people and injured many more, our country is in panic mode.
In just the last couple of days, police have responded to a number of calls that reported people armed with weapons, suspicious threats, and even a motorcycle backfire mistaken for gunshots.
There’s no denying it: Americans are on alert.
Times Square in downtown Manhattan erupted into a panic when a motorcycle backfired on Tuesday night. People ran out of a crowded theater and through the streets.
Screams can be heard as people fled from the area.
Police tried to make it clear that no one was in any danger.
“We are receiving multiple 911 calls. Please don’t panic. The Times Square area is very safe!”
The headquarters of USA TODAY have been evacuated after police received reports that a person inside the building was seen with a gun.
A massive police presence swarmed the area as officers in tactical gear cleared the Virginia media outlet’s campus just after 12 p.m. Wednesday.
— Nathan Bomey (@NathanBomey) August 7, 2019
It is now being reported that despite the 911 caller’s report, no one has been found with a weapon as of right now. A police helicopter is reportedly flying over the area.
USA TODAY reported that Lt. Eric Ivancic said local police received a call at 11:56 a.m. reporting that a man with gun was seen at the building, which holds the headquarters for USA TODAY, its parent company, Gannett Co., and offices for a variety of other businesses. Police were continuing to investigate, but there has been no evidence of a shooting and they have not located anyone with a weapon, Ivancic said.
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Fairfax County Police reported that they were clearing the building without incident. All personnel have been safely evacuated from inside the building.
Posts from social media show the police presence.
— William Dyer (@wdyerz) August 7, 2019
Susan Page, USA Today Washington Bureau Chief: “My co-workers have been evacuated from the building… We are kind of in a wait-and-see mood at the moment. My colleagues have told me that there are a lot of police officers on the scene now.” pic.twitter.com/mjFOQZCwt5
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 7, 2019
Because the building holds other offices, authorities herded hundreds of people safely out of the building while they spread out through the building to search for the alleged gunman.
— Kristen DelGuzzi (@kristendel) August 7, 2019
An investigation is ongoing.
Police in Gwinnett, Georgia responded to the Mall of Georgia to investigate ‘suspicious threats’ that were made.
Update: Mall Management has NOT closed down the mall at this time. Visitors can expect to see a large law enforcement presence. K9s are being utilized to search. pic.twitter.com/FtBls39iNh
— Gwinnett County Police (@GwinnettPd) August 7, 2019
While a search had not turned up anything at the publishing of this article, a heavy police presence remained on the scene.
A Louisiana Walmart broke out into absolute chaos when someone brandished scissors and a legal gun owner pulled their weapon in self-defense.
No shots were fired but with emotions running high after the massacre in El Paso, shoppers scrambled to find safety.
A 911 recording captured a panicked shopper exclaiming:
“They’re shooting, they’re shooting, they’re shooting, ma’am.”
Another 911 caller claimed:
“There are two black males in the Wal-Mart on Burbank shooting.”
The store was evacuated, dozens of police vehicles blocked nearby streets and police helicopters circled the building, the Advocate’s Lea Skene reports.
However, we now know that a shooting did not occur but tensions were still running high.
Two men, who were waiting in line by customer service got into a verbal argument. One of the men exited the line and returned a short time later with a pair of scissors in hand.
He then gestured in a stabbing motion at the first man who, as a lawfully permitted gun owner, pulled his firearm in self-defense. The man with the scissors began to flee but dropped his scissors which he went back to collect. At that point, an on-looker shouted “gun” and chaos began to spread.
LIVE RIGHT NOW: Reported shooting at the Burbank Walmart
Posted by Scottie Hunter WAFB on Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Skene reports that “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 gunshots.”
It is unclear what popping sounds the witnesses heard. One man who was standing close to the altercation was injured in the situation and was transported to a nearby hospital by private vehicle. It was originally reported that he had been shot, however, he had actually injured his leg in an effort to flee.
Following the shooting in Texas over the weekend, employees of the Louisiana Walmart had been provided with “code red” or active shooter training on Monday, the day prior to this incident.
According to Skene, Department Manager Porcha Videau was working in the Walmart Tuesday and she recalled the scene saying:
“I had just got back from my lunch break when people started yelling ‘code red’ and I just started running. I went into panic mode. We all did — people with kids, babies, just running. Even with all the recent shootings, you think it will never happen at your Walmart. But it can happen anywhere.”
East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux was sensitive to the heightened response of shoppers and staff. He commented:
“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 citizen’s anxiety levels much higher than normal.”