A 22-year-old Avondale man was arrested by the Sahuarita Police Department early Tuesday morning after alarming several customers at Walmart, police said.

Lt. Sam Almodova said a Walmart manager called 911 around 6:30 a.m. to report that a man carrying a camouflage-colored backpack and wearing a full-face motorcycle helmet was refusing to remove the helmet despite being asked four times.

"The manager said that his customers were beginning to freak out and so he was following the man throughout the store," to keep an eye on him, Almodova said.

When officers arrived at the store, the man was by the register and while he agreed to hand over his identification, he wouldn't answer any questions, the lieutenant said.

Freedom Pfaendler was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct and booked into the Pima County Adult Detention Center, he said.

He was also told he is never allowed back into the store, Almodova said.

"Even if we hadn't had the shootings this weekend, we probably would've done the same thing that we're doing today," Almodova said. "This puts people on edge. It frightens a lot of people when you have somebody walking around like that and refusing to obey what the rules of the business are."

Almodova was referring to the mass shootings at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas on Saturday and outside a Dayton, Ohio bar early Sunday morning. A lone gunman killed 22 people and injured 24 in the Texas shooting and the Ohio gunman killed nine and injured 14 others.

The department took the initial call quite seriously, he said.

"It kind of heightened our response. We had three officers respond to that only because you don't want this copycat stuff to start up. We're vigilant about that," Almodova said.

Lieutenant said Pfaendler, who turned out to be unarmed, told officers he never heard the manager ask him to remove his helmet. 

Kim Smith | 520-547-9740

Assistant Editor Kim Smith moved to Arizona from Michigan when she was 16. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism in 1989. She has worked at seven newspapers of varying size in Arizona, Texas and Nevada.

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