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Bodycam shows armed response to false reports of active shooting at Sevierville Walmart

Two days before Christmas 2020, officers responded to a packed Walmart on the Parkway in Sevierville after reports of an active shooting. This is what they found.

Cole Sullivan

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It was a radio call Sevierville police train for, but hope they never hear.

Two days before Christmas last year, it happened: reports of an active shooter inside a packed Walmart.

Families hid inside the shelves, 911 dispatchers prayed on the phone with callers, and officers ran toward the threat—guns drawn. 

Authorities later discovered it was all a false alarm: no one was hurt and no one had fired a shot. Two men faced charges for drawing guns during a fight near the store's restrooms. 

But officers and shoppers at the Sevierville Walmart didn't know that just before 3:30 p.m. on December 23, 2020. 

"Honestly, I thought that there was somebody loose inside the store and they'd either gone and barricaded themselves somewhere or were just trying to hide from us," Sevierville Police Lieutenant Matt Nicol said.

For the first time, body camera footage, surveillance video and 911 call records obtained by 10News show the panicked community reaction and armed police response in stark detail: customers calling 911 to ask whether they should grab their children and run, and officers clearing the store aisle-by-aisle.