FREDONIA, N.Y. (WIVB) — An active shooter threat called in to the Walmart in Fredonia caused quite a stir Wednesday afternoon.
Police responded in full force and caught the caller, who turned out to be just a boy. But because of incidents like these elsewhere, the hoax was treated as a real threat.
“We just live in a very different world today than we ever did before,” said Fredonia Police Chief Brad Meyers.
The juvenile, who was just 11, called Walmart repeatedly within a 15 minute period Wednesday afternoon.
“That was absolutely shocking to find out that it was an 11-year-old,” Meyers said. “Because your initial response is, what would make an 11-year-old even come up with this idea.”
He told employees he was inside, armed with a loaded handgun. And at any moment he’d open fire.
Meyers said the boy admitted to getting the idea from watching videos of similar threats on YouTube.
“I think it was malicious,” Meyers said. “I think he wanted to create chaos. We’ve all been trained that this is what’s happening right now with social media, as it pertains to domestic terrorism.”
Incidents like San Bernardino and Paris have changed the way police approach these incidents.
“You really believe that you’re on the precipice of walking into an active shooter,” Meyers said. “It’s just a question of when the shooting is going to begin.”
Wednesday was no different.
“I think every officer that responded to that scene realized that they’re at great risk of being hurt or killed, and there’s really no safe way to enter a scene like that and get everyone safely out of there without putting yourself in harm’s way,” he said.
Shoppers said they feel a change in atmosphere in public places.
“It’s just coming too close to home, you know,” said Janet Reading. “I don’t care for malls because they’re happening there now.”
Though Meyers said the boy was remorseful, he says the act was serious enough to warrant serious punishment.
“It won’t be handled lightly. It will be taken seriously, and the charges will be an appropriate charge as if you are an adult,” he said. “This is a major crisis. You created a major crisis for your community, and sorry doesn’t cut it, remorseful doesn’t cut it.”
The boy was processed and released to his guardians. He’s due back in family court for an arraignment on Jan. 8.