Suspicious individual at Walmart to be evaluated by psychiatrists

By HASKEL BURNS,

The man who was taken into custody and put on a 72-hour Crisis Intervention Team hold Saturday after acting suspiciously with a firearm at Walmart in Petal will be further evaluated by two more psychiatrists to determine his mental state.

During a news conference Tuesday at Petal City Hall, officials said after that step is taken they will determine the next course of action to take with 22-year-old Patsy Victorious Delvecchio III. The conference was attended by Mayor Hal Marx, Petal Police Chief Matthew Hiatt, Capt. Craig Locke of the Petal Police Department and Jason Denham of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Police were first notified of the incident at approximately 4 p.m. Friday, when they received a call from Walmart employees regarding a man in the store carrying a handgun in his waistband. He had purchased ammunition while in the store, and later was observed sitting in his car in the parking lot for about 15 minutes.

“He was making the people there at Walmart and some of the citizens feel uneasy,” Hiatt said.

Upon arriving at Walmart, officers saw the vehicle in question leaving the parking lot, at which point they conducted a traffic stop. Police observed Delvecchio, who was the only occupant of the car, wearing the weapon that was described during the initial call.

In addition to the pistol, officers also found an “AR-15 style” weapon and approximately 500 rounds of ammunition – including 10 loaded AR magazines and several pistol rounds – in Delvecchio’s car. Police also found a note in the car with a reminder to “buy more ammo.”

Although there were no criminal statute violations at the time of the traffic stop, more information was gathered and the items observed in Delvecchio’s car were documented. Officers and staff were later able to view Walmart’s surveillance footage.

“Mr. Delvecchio’s behavior presented some concern to us,” Hiatt said. “At one point in the video, we observed him take what would be considered an aggressive stance while facing the front entrance of the store.

“We also observed Mr. Delvecchio in conversation with an employee there at Walmart. Once we had an opportunity to speak with that employee, he advised that he became aware of Mr. Delvecchio after Mr. Delvecchio approached him to ask him a question. The employee noticed that Mr. Delvecchio was wearing a handgun, but that he had it in an odd location – again, the weapon was located in the center of his pants, just below the stomach.”

According to the employee, he looked at Delvecchio’s weapon and then back up to Delvecchio, at which point Delvecchio smirked at the employee.

“Mr. Delvecchio then asked the employee if they had a tire center at the store,” Hiatt said. “The employee became fearful at that time and quickly walked away.

“He advised management, and after they observed him sitting in his car for several minutes, that’s when the initial call was placed to Petal Police Department.”

On Saturday, police observed Delvecchio driving west on Evelyn Gandy Parkway, and conducted a stop on U.S. 11. Delvecchio was taken into custody for questioning, and his vehicle was towed to Petal Police Department.

Officials then contacted the ATF, who assisted in an interview with Delvecchio. A crisis team officer with Petal Police Department then recommended Delvecchio be put on hold at a single-point entry facility for mental evaluation.

A 72-hour hold was later placed on Delvecchio.

“On Monday, Mr. Delvecchio was evaluated by a Pine Belt clinician, who deemed it necessary that he be evaluated by two other psychiatrists,” Hiatt said. “Once that is complete, and the end result is determined on the mental state of Mr. Delvecchio, we will then determine – along with ATF – the next course of action at that time.”

Although Delvecchio has not been charged with a crime at this point, he will remain in custody until the evaluations. Officials hope to have the results of the evaluations later this week.

“I hope we’ve set the tone, and maybe an example, that the Petal Police Department – along with Special Agent Denham and his team – will not tolerate this type of behavior,” Hiatt said. “The city, the state and the country are at an alerted state of awareness as to what is going on, so when these things happen we’re going to respond, and we’re going to address the situation accordingly.”

Hiatt said there is nothing to indicate that anyone else was involved in the incident with Delvecchio.

“It seems to be an isolated incident – him and him alone,” he said.

Denham said the investigation is still in the early stages, but ATF officials will pursue all options available to them by the state.

“We’ll see where the investigation takes us,” he said. “At the appropriate time, once the other avenues that Mr. Delvecchio is currently engaged in have run their course, we’ll evaluate it then.”