WILKES-BARRE TWP. — A dispute over a man’s open support for President Donald Trump led to last week’s active shooter scare at the Wyoming Valley Mall in Wilkes-Barre Township.
Police say a Trump supporter wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat pulled a gun on a man who threatened to assault him and then swatted at him to knock the hat off his head.
After the Trump supporter pulled the gun, the suspect fled, police said.
News of the incident, which caused mall patrons to panic and flee as well, spread quickly online and sparked fears of a mass shooter at the shopping complex.
Wilkes-Barre Twp. police were quick to post on social media that there was no active shooter and the Trump supporter, who holds a concealed carry permit, appeared justified in pulling his gun in self defense.
Chief Will Clark on Tuesday indicated the Trump supporter was the victim and police are still looking for the person who attempted to assault him.
“The individual was wearing a hat in support of Donald Trump,” Clark said. “Apparently, the man told him to take the hat off. He refused. The individual threatened to assault him. The actor then took a swipe at the hat to knock it off his head. At that point, the victim backed up and drew his weapon and pointed it at the ground. The guy took off.”
Clark said the two people were “complete strangers” and the incident was clearly a result a political disagreement.
“The actor was obviously not a proponent of Donald Trump,” Clark said.
The incident unfolded outside the Macy’s store near the Royal House Buffet by the exit facing Mundy Street.
While the victim has a lawful concealed carry permit, the mall has a policy of not allowing firearms inside, the chief said.
“They do not want concealed weapons or open carry for this reason,” Clark said.
Clark said police won’t take action against the man with the gun because he didn’t commit a crime. If mall officials knew he had a gun and he refused to leave, then he could face trespassing charges, he said.
The man’s name was not released.
Police will continue to look for the suspect who fled.