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Man not banned from Walmart because of store’s gun policy change

September 18, 2019 GMT

CLAIM: Video clip shows a man being told he is banned from Walmart for failing to comply with the store’s new no carry policy. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The man was banned from Walmart before the retail giant announced on Sept. 3 that it would discontinue sales of handguns and short-barrel rifle ammunition and request that customers no longer openly carry firearms in its stores, following a deadly mass shooting at its El Paso, Texas store.

THE FACTS: On August 16, a person called 911 to alert the Lexington Police Department of a man on a Facebook livestream with a gun inside a Lexington, Kentucky, Walmart, said Brenna Angel, a department spokeswoman. 

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Jake Aaron Adkins had posted the livestream of his trip to Walmart that day at around 6 p.m. In it, Adkins films himself wandering around Walmart looking for help in the sporting goods section as he openly carries his firearm. 

“How do they leave a gun counter without anybody watching it,” Adkins says in the video. “Walmart leaves the counter alone all the time. Good thing I have a gun on me just in case something goes down in this Walmart.”  

At one point, he rides a bicycle and later shouts “customer assistance needed in sporting goods.” 

Adkins told the AP that he asked for assistance multiple times and later left when the store did not have the kayaks he wanted to purchase. 

Adkins returned to the Lexington Walmart at around 9 p.m. that night with his girlfriend to buy paddles. A store manager recognized him from the livestream and called the police.

Adkins’ girlfriend recorded that interaction with police in a 3-minute video, which was widely shared online. 

In the separate video, Lexington police officers can be seen telling Adkins he is banned from Walmart stores and handing him back his firearm. 

Tara Aston, a Walmart spokeswoman said in a statement that the incident with Adkins had nothing to do with their new policy. 

“This situation took place well before our announced change in policy around open carry in our stores, and our decision to ask this person to no longer shop with us was the result of his disruptive and unsettling behavior.” Aston added: “We are thankful the situation did not escalate further.”

On August 3, a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso left 22 dead. Following the shooting, Walmart employees were on edge as social media hoaxes spread online suggesting that similar shootings would occur in other cities around the U.S.

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