FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Authorities say a Fort Bragg soldier has been charged with creating a panic at a North Carolina mall after appearing there with an AR15 rifle and other military gear.
Bryan Scott Wolfinger, 25, was arrested and charged with "going armed to the terror of the public" in connection with Thursday's incident at Cross Creek Mall, Fayetteville police said. Wolfinger had apparently gone to the mall to have photographs taken with the military equipment and his rifle when 911 calls were received of an armed male at the mall, according to a statement from the Fayetteville police.
Wolfinger is a soldier stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., but his rank and U.S. Army unit were not available. He was released to his company commander and provost marshal at Bragg, the statement said.
Police were called just before 6:30 p.m. and upon arrival, came into contact with Wolfinger the carrying a rifle, load-bearing vest and ammunition near the Macy's wing of the mall, the Fayetteville Observer reported.
Wolfinger was detained without incident, but the mall was locked down for about an hour.
WTVD-TV, however, reports that Wolfinger's 90-minute session at Picture This Portrait Studio was over and he was leaving the studio at the time, according to an article in USA Today. The unidentified photographer told WTVD that the studio will no longer conduct photo sessions with people using weapons as accessories.
Shoppers and merchants quickly learned of the situation as police swept through the 150-shop facility, escorting everyone from the building and securing exits in response to what police said were multiple reports of "a subject armed with an assault rifle walking through Macy's,” the Fayetteville Observer reported. Anthony Kelly, assistant police chief, said more than 20 officers responded to the incident.