Petal Police Chief: Lives ‘absolutely’ saved as a result of keen eyes at WalMart

Because someone saw something and said something, crisis averted

Petal Police Chief: Lives ‘absolutely’ saved as a result of keen eyes at WalMart

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Maybe it was the gun poked down the front of Patsy Victorius Delvecchio III’s pants that made a few customers feel a little ill at ease in the Petal WalMart on Friday.

It also could have been the “aggressive stance” that police say he took at one point toward the front door. It definitely could have been the smirk he allegedly gave an employee who indicated that he saw the gun in his pants.

There’s nothing creepy or illegal about buying ammunition, but after the rest of that, again, people were unnerved.

The fact that customers and employees who saw something said something may have saved lives that day.

“I would absolutely say that," said Petal Police Chief Matthew Hiatt. "I would say that it began with the employee, with Walmart. It’s my understanding there were some concerned citizens as well that reported the actions and the behavior of Mr. Del Vecchio to the attention of Walmart staff, and that’s what it takes.”

Authorities said it looked like there was a lot to be concerned about in the minutes following as well. Del Vecchio had allegedly been in the parking lot for about 15 minutes. When police pulled him over, he had the handgun that was in his pants, as well as an AR-style weapon in the vehicle.

“There was approximately 500 rounds of ammunition inside Mr. Del Vecchio’s vehicle. Among that were 10 AR loaded magazines as well as several rounds of ammunition for the pistol.”

There was also a notebook in which a note was written: “Buy more ammo.”

But interviews with Del Vecchio led authorities to believe he could have mental health issues. He is former military, police say, but they don’t yet know for sure why he isn’t anymore. Until several things about his mental health are determined, charges will not be pressed. It’s unclear how long the evaluations could take.

“We want to make sure that we protect the public, as I think the Petal Police Department has done very effectively to this point," said Special Agent Jason Denham of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "Also, we want to have some empathy and compassion for our suspect.”

It’s possible that if charges are pressed, there could be state and/or federal charges.

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