CLEARWATER — A 33-year-old stood in a Walmart toy aisle on Friday and threatened to bring a gun to the U.S. 19 store if the remote control car he was buying didn’t work, according to police.
Anthony Reed, 33, was arrested Monday evening on a felony charge of making a false report about using a firearm in a violent manner.
The alleged threat was made days after 22 people were killed in an Aug. 3 mass shooting attack at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and nine people died in a bar shooting in Dayton, Ohio.
Reed may be a sovereign citizen, according to the arrest report. Those are anti-government extremists who do not believe they are subject to federal, state or local laws or taxes.
The alleged threat took place at about 12 p.m. Friday in the Walmart at 23106 U.S. 19 N, according to Clearwater police.
Reed went into the store around noon and asked about a remote control car in the store’s toy section. While talking to an employee, the arrest report said, he delivered this threat:
“I’m serious about my money,” Reed told the employee. “If I get home and this is broken, I’m going to snap and come back here with a gun.”
The threat created a “well-founded fear” for employees, the report said.
Clearwater police said they identified Reed through the store’s surveillance system. His wife also gave him a ride to the store in her Toyota Prius and he used her debit card to buy the car.
Officers visited him Monday evening. Reed admitted making the threat, the arrest report said, but told officers he was joking and did not own a gun.
“The Clearwater Police Department takes seriously all threats of violence and we will investigate them all with the same vigor and resources,” said agency spokesman Rob Shaw. “Saying you are going to come back to a store armed with a gun is not a joking matter. And there will be repercussions for such behavior, as there was in this case.”
Reed was booked into the Pinellas County jail, where he was being held Tuesday without bail.
This is not the first such threat made to a Walmart in the Tampa Bay region since the El Paso attack.
A 31-year-old Valrico man was arrested Aug. 4 on a felony charge of filing a false report of using a firearm in a violent manner after Hillsborough deputies said he called the Gibsonton store and threatened to shoot everyone inside.
Days later, a 56-year-old man drove his golf cart inside the same Walmart on Aug. 8 and was arrested on multiple charges for terrorizing and hitting shoppers as he drove through the checkout area.
Contact Ben Leonard at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8421. Follow @Ben___Leonard.