TAZEWELL, 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, the sheriff's office 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.