US

Florida Man Drives Golf Cart into Walmart, Attempts to Run Over Customers

By GQ Pan

A Florida man is facing charges after he drove a golf cart through the front doors of a Walmart and hit several customers, according to the local police.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s officials said they were called to the Walmart in Gibsonton around 12:30 p.m. on August 8. Originally, Michael Hudson, age 52, drove his golf cart up to and blocked the entrance to a liquor store, then demanded to speak to a manager.

When police officers arrived and attempted to talk to him, Hudson suddenly accelerated his golf cart and headed towards the Walmart store’s crowded main entrance, forcing customers to scurry to avoid being hit, reported Bay News 9.

Surveillance footage of the incident released by Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office shows Hudson speeding into an area filled with an array of customers and onlookers.

The golf cart is seen from another angle accelerating through the main doors of the Walmart and narrowly missing a woman’s shopping cart while being chased by two deputies. At least one officer can be seen pointing their stun gun at Hudson as he bursts into the store.

Despite being ordered to stop numerous times, Hudson continued at a high speed through the store before crashing into the checkout area where several customers were hit.

Hudson was injured and sent to Tampa General Hospital for treatment. A few customers who suffered minor injuries also received treatment at the scene by Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, reported WFLA.

Hudson now faces charges including multiple accounts of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, aggravated battery, trespassing, resisting arrest, and felony criminal mischief. Police said those charges could change as investigators determine how many people were hit and how badly they were hurt.

The very Walmart where Hudson’s Thursday golf cart rampage took place was evacuated last Sunday after receiving a mass shooting threat, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Police records suggest that on August 4, at 1:17 p.m., an employee at the Gibsonton Walmart received a phone call made by a man who said he would be at the store “in five minutes” and was going to “shoot up your store.” The management immediately called 911 and started to evacuate the shoppers.

The police officers rushed the store within two minutes to make sure everyone evacuated the Walmart safely. It was a tense situation for shoppers and store staff, as most of them already knew about the tragedies over the weekend, including the one in the El Paso, Texas, Walmart.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our deputies and their response,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “They arrived within moments and immediately gained control of this chaotic scene.”

The investigators were able to locate where that phone call came from and arrested 31-year-old Wayne Lee Padgett, of Valrico. Padgett admitted to blocking his number, calling Walmart and later deleting his call history. He is now charged with a felony in connection to the false threat.

“These criminals that seek to make us afraid to go shopping, to the movies, concerts, work and school are nothing but terrorists,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister.” This type of behavior will not be tolerated. We will pursue justice to the fullest extent of the law.”

Padgett is unemployed and has no criminal history. Investigators found no firearms at his residence.