By staff and wire reports
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
A dispute in a southwest Virginia parking lot crowded with holiday shoppers turned violent Thanksgiving night, with one throwing a punch and another responding by cutting him with a knife and brandishing a rifle, officials said Friday.
Both men were charged Thursday after the altercation in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Tazewell County that sent panicked shoppers scattering.
Christopher Jackson, 35, was waiting for another shopper to leave a parking space when Ronnie Sharp, 61, began sounding his horn behind Jackson’s vehicle, the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office said.
Sheriff Brian Hieatt said Jackson got out of his vehicle and confronted Sharp, punching him, and Sharp responded by severely cutting Jackson on the arm with a knife and pulling out a rifle. The rifle was not loaded.
Sharp was charged with malicious wounding and brandishing a firearm. Jackson was charged with disorderly conduct and assault and battery.
Both men were held at the Southwest Regional Jail in Tazewell County until family members paid $5,000 bond each for their release. Jackson was treated for the knife wound before he was taken to the jail They are scheduled to be arraigned on the charges next week.
Neither man has an attorney, Hieatt said.
Hieatt said the parking lot in Claypool Hill, between the towns of Tazewell and Richlands, was crowded and shoppers were jockeying for spaces from other retail outlets. He said officers responded almost immediately to the scene because Wal-Mart, anticipating a shopping frenzy, had hired some of his deputies.
The altercation had caused a panic in the parking lot, as shoppers fled the violence, he said.
“People were running away, people were scattering,” Hieatt said. “It was lucky we were there within seconds.”
Hieatt said Sharp had placed his rifle back in his vehicle before officers arrived. He explained that it was not loaded.
Hieatt said it wouldn’t have mattered to deputies responding to the scene. “They don’t know if your rifle’s loaded,” he said.
With the exception of the stabbing incident at the Claypool Hill, Va., Walmart Thursday evening, area police departments reported no major Black Friday incidents this morning.
“We had extra patrols out Thursday night and early Friday morning, but no reports of any problems,” Bluefield, Va., Police Chief Harry Cundiff said. “The incident at the Walmart at Claypool Hill, Va., is all I’ve heard of, and from what I’ve read, the parking spot wasn’t all that good.”
Tazewell County Sheriff Brian Hieatt said that a Russell County, Va., man — Ronnie Sharp, 61 — was arrested on malicious wounding and brandishing a firearm charges, following an altercation in the Claypool Hill Walmart parking lot when Sharp allegedly stabbed the other man in the arm with a knife.
Hieatt said on Friday that the victim, Christopher Jackson, 35, of Jewel ridge, Va., was also arrested after he was treated for the stab wounds on disorderly conduct and assault & battery. Both men are now free on bond, Hieatt said.
Elsewhere, Trooper L.F. Lee of the Princeton Detachment, West Virginia State Police, reported that late Thursday and early Friday morning passed without incident at the Mercer Mall and Princeton Walmart.
For more on this story, see Saturday’s edition of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.