A man who caused panic when he entered a Springfield, Missouri, Walmart wearing a ballistic vest and armed with a loaded rifle said it was a social experiment intended to test his Second Amendment right, according to police.
Dmitriy Andreychenko, 20, was arrested at the store on Thursday and has been charged with making a terrorist threat in the second degree.
“I wanted to know if that Walmart honored the Second Amendment,” he said, according to a probable cause statement from the Springfield Police Department.
Andreychenko told authorities he brought the weapon and the armor to the store after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, because he wanted to protect himself. He said he did not expect anyone to be startled when he walked in.
“This is Missouri,” he said. “I understand if we were somewhere else like New York or California, people would freak out.”
He was carrying an AR-style rifle and had a handgun attached to his hip, which was also loaded. While in the store, he appeared to be taking a video of himself with his cellphone as he pushed a shopping cart. An employee then pulled the fire alarm to alert customers to leave the building, and an off-duty firefighter took him into custody until police arrived. No shots were fired and no one was injured.
Andreychenko’s sister, Anastasia, told police that before the incident, he called her and asked if she would film him as he entered the store.
“He called it a social experiment on how his Second Amendment right would be respected in a public area,” she said.
Anastasia warned him it was a bad idea and said she wasn’t interested in participating.
In a statement released Friday, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson said that while Missouri upholds the Second Amendment, “that right does not allow an individual to act in a reckless and criminal manner endangering other citizens.”
“As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously explained, ‘The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater causing a panic,’” he added.
If convicted, Andreychenko could spend up to four years in prison and face a fine of up to $10,000.
He is currently being held in Greene County Jail on a $10,000 bond.