A Sears employee was arrested Friday on charges of intimidation, carrying an
unpermitted handgun, and false reporting after Portage Police said that he
threatened to shoot a customer after an argument about a box spring.
Charged was Markus R. Burns, 24, of Wheatfield.
According to police, at 4:06 p.m. officers were dispatched to the Sears at
6169 U.S. Highway 6 after a customer reported that an employee, later
identified as Burns, had approached her husband and threatened him,
subsequent to a disagreement a short time before over the cost of a box
Involved in that disagreement had been Burns and Burns’ manager, that latter
of whom advised that the dispute had not been “heated” and that the
customers, deciding not to buy the box spring, had gone to another aisle to
continue their shopping.
But, a “few moments later,” Burns followed the customers into the other
aisle and was “yelling” at them about the disagreement, which prompted one
of them to tell Burns to “Shut up and go away,” police said.
At that point Burns “removed his Sears’ shirt and reportedly stated ‘What
are you going to do about it?’” police said. Then “Burns reportedly told
(the customer) ‘Let’s go outside and I’ll shoot you in the (expletive)
face,’” police said.
Burns, for his part, admitted owning a handgun—which he said “was locked up
in a safe place at his residence”—also admitted threatening to shoot the
customer, and denied having any weapons at all in his vehicle, police said.
Further investigation, however, determined that Burns did have in his
vehicle a fully loaded Ruger LCP .380, which had been concealed in a
sweatshirt on the passenger’s seat but fell to the ground when Burns reached
for it, police said.
“It is my belief that (Burns) knew the weapon was in the sweatshirt, hence
his movement to get the sweatshirt prior to my searching it and the
vehicle,” the investigating officer said. “His actions, not only by lying to
me about the weapon being in the car, put both he and myself in great danger
due to the weapon falling.”
Burns was transported to Porter County Jail.
During the course of the investigation, the customers advised police that
another manager told them that “he would not be calling the police (about
Burns) but would handle the incident in-house. They also advised that,
before initially making contact with Burns and the first manager, they had
“overheard (Burns) ‘flirting’” with her and they speculated that Burns had
“continued the dispute to impress her.”