The terror was real when a man chased and pointed a pellet gun at customers and employees at the Dunham’s Sports and Walmart stores on U.S. 421 in Wilkesboro Saturday night.

The Swiss Arms MOD-Fire .177 caliber pellet gun used in the incident is powerful enough to cause serious injury and even death. To those being threatened that night, the weapon certainly appeared to be capable of killing.

The suspect is charged with stealing the pellet gun from Dunham’s that same night. Shotguns, rifles and other weapons with projectiles propelled by exploding gunpowder in the store fortunately were locked up as required by law.

Thankfully, no one was injured and Wilkesboro’s time in the news spotlight regionally and nationally because of the incident has passed.

Credit for resolving this frightful event as well as could be hoped goes to officers of the Wilkesboro Police Department and other law enforcement agencies who responded.

They performed their duties admirably and took the armed suspect into custody with no shots fired, even though he is charged with pointing the pellet gun at an officer in Dunham’s and another officer in Walmart.

Too often, the public isn’t made aware of the restraint law enforcement officers show when they’re threatened in situation such as this. Instead, only those that turn out otherwise typically get more than local media attention.

With the incident Saturday night, Wilkes County joined the growing list of communities of every size and section of the nation directly impacted by an expanding wave of domestic terrorism.

The significance of the incident at Dunham’s Sports and Walmart in Wilkesboro is accentuated by the fact that it resulted in the felony offense of terrorism being filed for the first time in Wilkes County.

It’s also significant that the man charged in the incident told a Wilkesboro officer that news of mass fatal shootings a week earlier at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and at a concert in Dayton, Ohio, prompted him “to go to Dunham’s and Walmart to kill a bunch of people.”

With these violent incidents begetting more of the same and the persistent gridlock beteen lawmakers over what to do in response, there is good reason for individuals to adopt a stance of preparedness.

This includes maintaining “situational awareness” in public places.

When you arrive at a restaurant, music venue or other public place, allow a few moments to intentionally become aware of your surroundings and the overall layout. For example, notice locations of doors and windows if you’re indoors and exit points if it’s outdoors. Notice where people are moving about and what you can and can’t see from where you’re sitting.

This might influence where you sit, such as choosing seats near an aisle or close to exits at a movie theater or with your back to a wall and facing the entrance at a restaurant.

Consider what you would do in the particular setting if a threat arose. Possibly have the people you’re with participate to make the exercise more interesting and increase its value.

Try to not let it interfere with how you live your life, but be alert and ready to react to threats that are very real.

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