UPDATE 3: Employee pulls gun during Wal-Mart produce dispute
FORT OGLETHORPE (WRCB) -- A Fort Oglethorpe Wal-Mart employee is behind bars Sunday, accused of pulling a gun on a customer.
Officials say 63-year-old Luther Lawson thought he was over-charged for tomatoes. The situation escalated from there.
Police say Lawson was in the store as a shopper Easter morning. The 63-year-old is an employee, but is currently on medical leave.
"I didn't know people could get this way over prices of tomatoes," says Wal-Mart shopper Danielle Mische.
Apparently the price tag does make a big difference to one Fort Oglethorpe Wal-Mart shopper, Especially when it comes to how much the fruit will cost him.
"We believe the gentleman carrying the handgun was upset about the price he'd been charged for produce," says Fort Oglethorpe Police Officer Mitchell Moore.
Moore was at the Wal-Mart on Battlefield parkway around 10 a.m. when the produce aisle confrontation went down.
"There was a gentleman inside that had a actually pulled a firearm on another gentleman," says Moore, reffering to 63-year-old Luther Lawson.
Lawson now faced aggravated assault, simple battery, child cruelty and reckless conduct charges. Police say Lawson got upset when he went to check out, and headed back towards produce to grab the tomato price tag.
"Which is where the lady was standing along with her husband and child," says Moore. "Where the physical contact took place."
Police say Lawson brushed or even pushed a woman when he grabbed the price tag. Her husband stepped in and after a few heated words, pushed back.
"Lawson brandished a firearm at that point and allegedly made a threat to shot the husband," says Moore.
That's when a few other shoppers stepped in, and with soothing words talked Lawson into putting the gun away. The 63-year-old was headed for the door when police arrested him.
"The fact that it occurred in a public venue involved a handgun and multiple possible victims, should something have happened," says Moore. For that reason Fort Oglethorpe Police are slapping Lawson with as many charges as possible.
Sunday Wal-Mart shoppers say the whole thing is scary. "I think that's sad," says shopper Anne Whaley. "Very, very sad."
Police say Lawson is licensed to carry in Catoosa County. The gun was a loaded 9 mm semi automatic handgun.
The Wal-mart Corporate Office did issue a statement Sunday, saying they are working with police and thankful no one was injured. According to Wal-Mart representative, Dan Fogleman, Lawson has been on an extended medical leave of absence for several months.
"We regard this type of behavior as unacceptable," says Fogleman. "Mr. Lawson will more than likely not be allowed to return to the store."