TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — After further investigation and a detailed analysis of the surveillance video, officials have reiterated that no crime was committed during the disturbance that took place at the eastside Walmart in Terre Haute in early August.
Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt said during a news conference Friday that he has called on state legislators, specifically State Sen. Jon Ford, to introduce a bill that would create a law against wearing a full facemask while carrying a weapon in a business as a result of what happened.
The incident took place at the Walmart located at 2399 SR 46 on Aug. 2. Customers reportedly fled the building due to the presence of an individual wearing a balaclava-style ski mask and with what looked to be a weapon in their waistband.
Police responded to the building and initially detained the two individuals involved, who told them they had been recording a “gangster video”. Upon consultation with the prosecutor, it was determined that no crime had been committed and the two were released.
Since that time, Modesitt said that rumors, or “Facebook facts”, had been spreading. So, to clear up misconceptions, and to provide transparency, it was decided to release the surveillance video obtained from Walmart to the public.
Initial reports had stated that two individuals were wearing masks, however surveillance footage revealed just one person was wearing the mask and had what was later revealed to be a pellet gun in his waistband. Modesitt clarified that the footage also showed that at no time did the individual brandish, remove the “gun” from his waistband or act in a threatening manner toward anyone in the building.
Modesitt said that his office looked into every possible statute that could apply, as well as case-law surrounding those statutes to be sure they were interpreting the laws correctly. Based on that research they still believe under current Indiana law, no crime was committed. Modesitt called the actions of the two, “very bad judgment”, and said he and the police share the frustrations of the public with the situation.
“He agreed with my recommendation,” Modesitt said about contacting Sen. Ford. “He is now looking into that and [is] going to see if that’s something we could push through the legislature to see if we could get a law adopted going forward.”
MyWabashValley.com has reached out to Sen. Ford for comment.
When asked about potential disturbing the peace charges, Modesitt said that the two did nothing to proactively disturb the peace.
Modesitt ended the conference by telling the public, “it’s not a good idea to go into a business with a full mask and carrying a weapon, you may be seen as a robber. I would stress this is very poor judgment. Covid masks are one thing, but a full mask, you are asking for trouble. It could lead to someone pulling a gun on them.”