You have likely seen a photo of Walmart’s now infamous “Back to School” gun display that hit Twitter last week and went viral and read the resulting outraged comments.
Now, USA Today reports that the retail giant is saying the display was a prank, but even that explanation remains hazy.
The story says Walmart spokesperson Charles Crowson said “the company is ‘certain’ the incident was a ruse, but offered no other details.”
The photo shows a glass gun case holding a carousel of rifles in an unidentified Walmart store with a sign on top reading, “Own The School Year Like a Hero,” the retailer’s current back-to-school slogan.
Many on social media were quick to draw connections to school shootings and demanded an explanation for the display from the international retail giant.
For those who looked closely, there were details that showed it was likely not part of the store’s actual campaign. As consumerist.com reports, “there is only the one back-to-school sign posted in the firerams section, and that this only happened at one Walmart store.”
But Crowson didn’t tell USA Today what aspect of the incident was a prank or ruse. Was it something set up by a Walmart employee as a joke? Did a customer grab a sign from somewhere else, toss it up on the gun case and take a photo? Or is the whole thing a product of Photoshop?
Crowson said in the story that the company had “several people” investigating the matter, and finished the job Friday.
“I really don’t think any retailer is immune from things like this popping up through social media,” he said in the story. “When we’re faced with it, we do take the claim seriously.”
Consumerist.com reports the woman who claimed to the be the original photographer insisted in an interview last week that she’d snapped the photo at a Walmart in Evansville, Indiana. That claim has not been addressed by the company.