A suspect is in custody after a report of a man with a knife prompted evacuations at a Marietta Walmart, police said.
Officers responded to the store at 210 Cobb Parkway around 8 a.m. Monday and quickly apprehended 50-year-old Jerry Wayne Thompson without incident, according to police.
“Everyone is safe and the suspect is in custody,” Marietta police said in an alert. Police confirmed the man did not have a gun.
The incident started as a family dispute involving Thompson, police spokesman Officer Chuck McPhilamy told AJC.com. Thompson and a woman entered Walmart around 7:50 a.m., and the woman asked for help.
Initially, Thompson agreed to wait at customer service for police to arrive, but McPhilamy said the man made his way to the kitchen knives instead.
A Walmart loss prevention associate called 911 after Thompson allegedly grabbed a large knife and tried to open the packaging “while aggressively approaching Walmart employees,” he said. Marietta police officers arriving at the scene around 8 a.m. heard an evacuation order come over the store’s loudspeaker.
In the confusion, McPhilamy said one Walmart employee told his mother there was a shooting at work. After the weekend’s deadly event at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, followed by another rampage shooting in a nightlife district in Dayton, Ohio, the mother called 911 in a panic.
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The call came in Monday after the situation at the store was resolved, McPhilamy said. Still, rumors of a shooting in Marietta spread quickly.
While he understood the parent’s concern and could empathize, McPhilamy said police wanted to quickly reassure the public there was no danger.
“There was never a gun,” he said. “It was a man who was in Walmart who grabbed a knife from sporting goods who was taken into custody without incident.”
In a statement, he said the Marietta Police Department recognizes how the events in Texas and Ohio, and even the incident in Marietta, could cause anxiety. They are working to organize another active shooter training seminar for citizens.
“Today, we applaud Walmart for the coordinated and methodical way they worked with us to ensure everyone’s safety,” he said.
Thompson was charged with two misdemeanor counts of simple assault and disorderly conduct and booked into the Cobb County Adult Detention Center, where he was being held Tuesday in lieu of $5,000 bond.
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