Police: Possible Mass Shooting Averted by Walmart Employees

A Pennsylvania man was arrested Saturday after making threats against Temple University while purchasing ammunition for a semi-automatic rifle at a Walmart store. Police said a potential mass shooting at Temple was averted due to the actions of employees at the Walmart located in Tullytown, Bucks County, according to local WFMZ News.

Patrick Buhler, 29, was arraigned Saturday on misdemeanor terroristic threats and harassment counts. While purchasing five boxes of .223 caliber rifle ammunition compatible for use with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the style gun used by the gunman to kill nine people in Dayton, Ohio Sunday, Buhler apparently made very concerning statements Temple to two separate Walmart customers.

According to allegations in the criminal complaint, Buhler spoke to a customer in the sporting goods department about University security on Wednesday night, asking questions about the campus police and the department’s response time, according to a report from ABC News. He is then alleged to have said, “You will see something on the news in the next couple of days.”

Buhler also allegedly said he was specifically purchasing .223 caliber rifle ammunition because he knew that “cops wear bulletproof vests.”

Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said Buhler’s comments raised red flags among Walmart staff.

“He was making threats that were not only concerning but ended up being criminal,” Weintraub said.  “They did a background check of their system and saw that this now-defendant was making very similar purchases at [other] Walmart stores in the area.”

According to police, Buhler had also purchased knives, ammunition, propane tanks, a two-way radio, and binoculars at other nearby Walmart stores.

Buhler, who was arrested Thursday at his home in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, later told police that his comments to the other Walmart customers alluding to “violent things” were a mistake, saying he didn’t know what he was thinking at the time.

However, the criminal complaint also noted that Buhler was arrested in New Jersey in April for illegally possessing assault weapons, rifles handguns, high-capacity ammunition magazines, and multiple rounds of illegal ammunition.

“We were lucky in this situation. We were able to nip a potentially deadly and explosive situation in the bud,” said Weintraub.

Buhler was processed at Bucks County Correctional Facility and is currently being held at Bucks County Jail on $100,000 bond.

[Image via screengrab.]

Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.

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