After causing panic at Walmart, man told cops he was testing right to bear arms

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Prosecutors on Friday filed a terrorist threat charge against a 20-year-old man who said he walked into a Missouri store wearing body armour and carrying a loaded rifle and handgun to test whether Walmart would honour his constitutional right to bear arms.

The incident, just days after 22 people were killed during an attack at another Walmart in El Paso, Texas, caused a panic at the Springfield, Missouri, store. Dmitriy Andreychenko walked through filming himself with his cellphone Thursday afternoon.

No shots were fired and Andreychenko was arrested after he was stopped by an armed off-duty firefighter at the store.

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“Missouri protects the right of people to open carry a firearm, but that does not allow an individual to act in a reckless and criminal manner endangering other citizens,” Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson said in a statement announcing the charge. Patterson compared the man’s actions to “falsely shouting fire in a theatre causing a panic.”

If convicted, the felony charge of making a terrorist threat in the second degree is punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, according to the prosecutor’s office. The charge means he showed reckless disregard for the risk of causing an evacuation or knowingly caused fear that lives were in danger.

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“I wanted to know if Walmart honoured the Second Amendment,” a probable cause statement released Friday with the charges quoted Andreychenko as saying.

Andreychenko started to record himself with his phone while he was still in the car parked at Walmart. He got the body armour from the trunk of his car and put it on before grabbing a shopping cart and walking into the store, according to the statement.

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Andreychenko said his intention was to buy grocery bags. The rifle had a loaded magazine inserted, but a round was not chambered. A handgun on his right hip was loaded with one round in the chamber.

He said he bought the rifle and body armour because of three recent shootings and a stabbing, and said he wanted to protect himself.

His wife, Angelice Andreychenko, told investigators that she warned him it was not a good idea, adding that he was an immature boy.

His sister, Anastasia Andreychenko, said he had asked her if she would videotape him going into Walmart with a gun and she also told him it was a bad idea, according to the probable cause statement.

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The statement does not allege that he pointed the weapons at anyone, although patrons in the surveillance video could be seen in the background running away.

Walmart issued a statement Friday that praised authorities for stopping the incident from escalating. It said Andreychenko is no longer welcome in its stores.

“This was a reckless act designed to scare people, disrupt our business and it put our associates and customers at risk,” said spokeswoman LeMia Jenkins. “We applaud the quick actions of our associates to evacuate customers from our store, and we’re thankful no one was injured.”

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Since January 2017, Missouri has not required a permit to openly or conceal carry a firearm for those 19 years or older. Roughly 30 states allow the open carrying of handguns and rifles and shotguns in public without a permit.

San Francisco-based Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence said six states generally prohibit the open carrying of rifles and shotguns — California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey — along with the District of Columbia, the law centre said.

California, Florida and Illinois also generally ban the open carry of handguns, as do New York and South Carolina.

Springfield is about 266 kilometres south of Kansas City, Missouri.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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