A Country Is On Edge As White Men Threaten To “Shoot Up” Walmart’s From Texas To Florida
In the wake of a deadly mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, threats of copycat attacks are emerging across the United States, causing patrons, particularly Latinos, fear to even shop at the low-cost retail corporation.
On the morning of August 3, a white supremacist terrorist walked into the Walmart Supercenter in east El Paso with a semi-automatic, opening fire at a sea of shoppers. Twenty people were killed and 24 others were injured, most of them Latinos. The shooting is the second-deadliest attack directed at Latinos in recent history, following the 2016 mass killing at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, which claimed the lives of 49 people, 90 percent of them gay Latinos.
Many fear that copycat gunmen are emboldened after the El Paso attack.
The gunman, a pro-Trump white man who was arrested and is facing capital murder charges, has a documented history of being a far-right white nationalist, with multiple anti-Latinx and anti-immigrant posts on his social networks. In one, he says he was inspired by the Christchurch mosque shooting, was concerned about a “Hispanic invasion” and was “defending his country.”
Since the El Paso Massacre, at least eight Walmart’s have faced threats across the country.
In the days that have followed the El Paso attack, the deadliest mass assault in 2019, officers have arrested several white supremacist men inspired by Crusius who have made threats about carrying out killings at Walmarts near them.
Walmart shoppers in Texas were threatened at least two times since El Paso.
In Texas, two more warnings of attacks at the retail store have shaken the state. On Wednesday, a 13-year-old boy was arrested for making terroristic threatening remarks that led to the evacuation of a Walmart. Also, over the weekend, a man was arrested for posting an “imminent threat” on a social media site that was supposed to occur at a store in Harlington at a planned date. He was placed under arrest for a “terroristic threat.”
In Missouri, 20-year-old Dmitriy Andreychenko walked into a Walmart store on Thursday wearing body armor and carrying a rifle and a handgun.
The man didn’t fire his weapons, but his menacing presence still sent shoppers to flee. Andreychenko, who recorded the entire incident, said he was testing if “Walmart honored the second amendment.” The state does not require a permit to openly or conceal carry a firearm for people who are 19 years or older. Andreychenkom, who was arrested by an off-duty firefighter, faces up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted of the felony charge of making a terrorist threat in the second degree.
A Florida Walmart was evacuated after a man called in threatening to “shoot up” the place.
A day after the shooting in El Paso, a Florida man called and threatened to “shoot up” a Tampa-area Walmart where his mother is employed. Shortly after the call, officers directed shoppers out of the store and into the parking lot. While law enforcement later determined the threat was not credible and soon reopened the store, the man, 31-year-old Wayne Lee Padgett, was arrested and charged for making a false report of using a firearm in a violent manner, which is a felony offense in the state.
Also in the Sunshine State, a man in Central Florida warned on Facebook that his followers shouldn’t go to Walmart this week.
Apparently, the man was expecting to receive his semi-automatic. According to law enforcement, the 26-year-old subscribes to white supremacist ideology and has a history of creating fake accounts to make menacing posts. He has been charged with writing threats to kill or do bodily harm.
The growing violence directed at Latinos, including a massive immigration raid in Mississippi that rounded up 680 mostly Latino workers, has many fearful of running errands or speaking Spanish outside of their homes. For them, being brown, speaking accented English or conversing in Spanish marks them for death in the current political and social climate.
On Twitter, many Latinos are voicing their concern.
“I, a Latino and immigrant who works at Walmart, fear for my life every time I go in to put produce on shelf because I could be shot,” tweeted one user on Tuesday.
Others have made the decision to stop shopping at the retail store altogether.
“Dear @Walmart, my exchange student from Colombia arrives next week. No way in hell will I take this young Latino woman school shopping in one of your stores. I fear for her safety and mine,” wrote another Twitter user on Wednesday.
For those living in areas with vast populations of Latinos like Los Angeles, New York, Texas, Chicago and Florida as well as in locales where they are a minority, the fear is all the same. In a country where 18 percent of the population is Latino and so much of the national history, language, culture and economy is shaped by Latinos, we, and all we encompass, have become targets of violence by a growing group of homicidal white supremacist men.