KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – Despite initial reports of an active shooter situation at the Sevierville Walmart on the Parkway, police said no shots were ever fired and nobody was hurt. However, three people were taken into custody and two people were eventually charged after multiple guns were displayed during a dispute between customers.
According to police, 65-year old Pedro Salisipan Ngayan, Jr. of Pigeon Forge, was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, and 22-year old Dashawn Leon Bonner of Pensacola, Florida, was charged with one count of misdemeanor assault.
Bonner is accused of pushing Ngayan down during a fight and Ngayan is accused of responding by pointing a handgun at Bonner. Authorities said Bonner ‘retreated to another location in the store’ but was followed by Ngayan. Bonner then pointed his own handgun at Ngayan, according to police.
Police said they took a third person into custody but later determined that person was not part of the dispute.
The call came in Wednesday afternoon as an “active shooter” situation. Dozens of people were rushed out of the Walmart just after 3:30 p.m., according to a manager for the nearby Chick-Fil-A restaurant.
Police told WVLT News investigators interviewed multiple witnesses in an attempt to settle conflicting reports about whether shots were actually fired. Late Wednesday night, police determined shots were not fired.
Police said there were multiple witnesses because the store was so busy with Christmas just two days away.
Police said there was no danger to the public or anyone else in the area and no victims had been found after searching the Walmart multiple times.
Police said they are not searching for any additional suspects as they believe everyone involved in the incident is in custody.
Early in the afternoon, Cody Cummings told WVLT News Anchor Amanda Hara between 20 and 30 Walmart customers were safe harboring inside the Chick-Fil-A store that he manages. The restaurant is next door to the Walmart. Cummings said a civilian safe harboring inside his store reported a fight between two men which resulted in one of the men pulling out a gun. People nearby became alarmed which caused panic to ensue.
Cummings said one of his employees was inside the Walmart when customers were alerted over the loudspeaker that a man with a gun was moving through the store.
Cummings reported that a SWAT team was set up in the area, apparently searching for the possible gunman.
An employee at the Auntie Anne’s, which is located inside the Walmart Supercenter, told WVLT News he was less than 100 yards away from the scuffle as it unfolded. Christian Furman told WVLT News it caused people to panic and trip over each other. He said he stayed calm and tried to help the people around him.
“I didn’t hear any shots I just heard a lot of shouting and people screaming. I couldn’t even hear words,” said Furman.
WVLT attempted to reach out to the Walmart store but nobody answered the phone lines.
The Walmart remained closed Wednesday evening as officers continued to investigate inside the store. There was no word on when it was expected to reopen.
Some store managers at Tanger Outlets told WVLT News their stores were on lockdown Wednesday afternoon as a precaution but officials said they did not believe there was a threat on the shopping center’s campus.
A spokesperson for the Tanger Outlets told WVLT News that the entire mall was never placed on lockdown.
Police said traffic on the Parkway was moving smoothly again in the area by 6 p.m. after the incident caused the road to close for a short time.
Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.