Home TikTok trend? Waynesboro Police respond to report of unprovoked punches

TikTok trend? Waynesboro Police respond to report of unprovoked punches

Crystal Graham
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A social media post making the rounds this weekend led people in Waynesboro to believe that citizens were being randomly attacked by strangers.

The good news, according to Waynesboro Police: there isn’t a trend of this happening. A look at recent police reports show only one incidence of a crime meeting this description.

A Staunton business owner posted to social media: “What the hell is going on at Walmart in Waynesboro? Someone in my family was sucker punched by a complete stranger while standing in the self-checkout line. The man walked up, punched him in the face, knocked him out cold, and turned around and walked back out the door like nothing happened.”

Page Hearn, the owner of Queen City Strength in Staunton, started this thread on Facebook on Dec. 9, related to an incident that occurred at the Walmart on Lucy Lane in Waynesboro.

She has 6.9k followers on Facebook, according to her profile, and the post was shared 65 times potentially stoking fear to go out shopping at Walmart or elsewhere.

“According to police, this is the fourth time this has happened this week,” she said in the thread.

Hearn reported this happened to her brother-in-law and said she heard the details at a family gathering.

“He was literally standing in line to check out and looking down at his wallet. The man walked up and when he looked up, he him him. My BIL had never seen him before and didn’t even have time to say a word before he was on the ground.

“I’m getting the story directly from the man it happened to. As far as the number of incidents, that’s what the officer who responded told him while taking the report,” Hearn responded in the thread.

People were clearly up in arms over the news related to this alleged unprovoked crime. To date, there are 66 comments on the thread. The comments range from why people should open carry to the reason for the attack being a possible TikTok challenge.

Hearn and her business allegedly came under attack after she attended the rally and insurrection in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, according to a podcast.

One friend replied: “Conceal carry people and take out these POS. People need to step up and take these criminals out for good!”

Another said: “What the world? This is why I’m a fan of open carry!”

One Facebook friend replied: “Supposedly there’s some kind of TikTok challenge telling people to randomly walk up to someone and punch them in the face. I don’t know if it’s true. I saw a few people on my feed post about it as a new ‘trend.'”

Another friend posted: “My husband just told me that’s some type of Tik Tok thing. People have lost their minds.”

A quick search for news related to this so-called trend on TikTok doesn’t seem to show a challenge of this nature. However, there are videos and news reporting of TikTok challenges gone wrong where someone does get punched as a result.

Augusta Free Press reached out to the Waynesboro Police Department to get more details on the incident and any other incidents that might have happened in the River City.

Waynesboro Police Department Sgt. Jamie Dunn confirmed the event did happen at Walmart, though he said some of the facts presented in the thread were “inaccurate.”

“The victim did not know the suspect. The victim was a 35 year old male. Victim did not appear to have any visible injuries,” Dunn wrote in an email to AFP.

While the business owner was told by her family member that this had happened multiple times according to the responding officer, Dunn said “no other reports or incidents were found that matches this type of incident.”

A suspect in the case, Kenneth Howard Vaughn, 37, of Staunton, was arrested following the incident for simple assault and providing false ID to law enforcement.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.