CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Police said Tuesday that a gun “discharged accidentally” inside a restroom at a Midlothian Walmart.
The incident prompted law enforcement to rush to the area but authorities found no shooter and no one was shot at the supercenter on Chattanooga Plaza, according to a tweet from Chesterfield Police.
Lt. CJ Hensley with Chesterfield police told 8News that the building was swept and evidence found during the course of the investigation confirmed an accidental discharge.
Chesterfield police said a 66-year-old Richmond man named Clifford C. Shook, Jr. has been charged with reckless handling of a firearm. Shook, who authorities said has a concealed carry permit, is expected to be in court on Dec. 9 after being released.
One witness told 8News she heard “two distinct bangs” while in the self-checkout line at the store.
“I was checking out in the self-checkout line,” Mary DePasquale said. “I heard two distinct bangs that had a metallic-like sound. I thought someone dropped a ladder. Then I saw a couple Walmart employees and other people running toward the exit screaming ‘Get out! Get out! It is an active shooter!’”
DePasquale, who said she lives in Chesterfield, recalled how she ran out of the store and came upon police officers with their guns drawn.
“I didn’t even look. I ran out. People were grabbing their children and all running out. It wasn’t panic. But it was frightening,” she remembered.
“I didn’t know where the loud bangs came from specifically, it was at the front of the store. I got outside and within seconds there was a major police response. I saw regular police with their guns drawn and plain clothes police with rifles all rushing to get inside Walmart,” DePasquale continued.
“I was doing some Christmas shopping and I certainly didn’t expect that.”
Another shopper named Amanda Tansey sent 8News video of officers running towards the entrance of Walmart as sirens blare in the background.