PIKEVILLE — No one is hurt after a Floyd County man, who had previously served time for threatening to kill the president, walked into Lowe’s Home Improvement and began firing a gun.
Police say Barry Cates Jr., 51, of Ivel, a nine-and-a-half-year employee of Lowe’s, walked into the business around 6:30 a.m., Thursday, armed with a .22 caliber handgun. He allegedly fired two shots in the building, while the store was occupied by other employees.
Pikeville Police, Kentucky State Police and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement responded to the scene and arrested Cates, charging him with one count of first-degree wanton endangerment. He was lodged in the Pike County Detention Center.
Pikeville Police Det. Phillip Reed, who is leading the investigation into the incident, said Cates has made statements since being taken into custody that reveal the incident was borne out of an ongoing dispute he had with another male employee of the store.
“He stated that he’d had all he could stand and took the gun to confront [the other employee],” Reed said.
Unbeknownst to Cates, however, the other employee was off work for a scheduled vacation this week. When Cates arrived at the store asking for the man, only to be told he was not there, Reed said Cates apparently became frustrated and fired his gun in the air twice.
Reed also indicated that Cates would not allow employees to leave and tried to herd them all in the front of the store. However, as soon as he saw police arrive, Cates placed his gun and bullets on the counter and laid down in the floor.
Later in the day, when Cates’ criminal history became available, police added a charge of possession of a gun by a convicted felon against him.
Cates previously served seven years in prison, after writing a threatening letter to President Ronald Reagan in 1982.