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Armed man enters Charlottesville Kroger

Local man exercises Second Amendment right, does not face criminal charges

The 22-year-old man who entered a Charlottesville Kroger carrying a loaded semi-automatic rifle Sunday evening will not face criminal charges, said Charlottesville police Lieut. Ronnie Roberts Monday.

Police were dispatched around 5 p.m. after receiving several phone calls about the incident, Roberts said. Observers saw the unidentified man walk unarmed into the store, located at the intersection of Hydraulic Road and Emmet Street. He then returned to his car before briefly re-entering the store with an AR-15 rifle. Police questioned the man, but said they are unable to publicly release his name. The man was not arrested, police said, because he legally owned the rifle and he was carrying the gun in plain sight, in accordance with Virginia law.

“From an operational standpoint it was inappropriate to bring a weapon into the store,” Roberts said. “It alarmed so many people.”

Police are unable to say with certainty why the individual brought the gun into the store, though they suspect it was likely a demonstration of his Second Amendment rights.

The store manager said although no laws were broken, the man was still banned from the property, which Charlottesville authorities say is within the legal authority of the manager.

Kroger Mid-Atlantic, the regional division for the national grocery retailer, released a brief statement shortly after the incident emphasizing their commitment to store security. “The safety of our customers and our associates is always first and foremost as we run our business,” Kroger spokesperson Carl York said in an email.

The store policy is to comply with state and local laws and to treat each incident individually, York said. “In this case, it was alarming and frightening to our customers and associates,” he said. “Several of our customers dialed 9-1-1 and our store team’s reaction was reasonable and understood.”

Philip VanCleave, president of the Virginia Citizen’s Defense League, a grassroots pro-gun organizaion, said the man’s behavior was unusual but did not present any real danger. “He clearly was not out to harm anyone,” VanCleave said. “I think he was trying to get people to realize that we have certain rights.”