Reports vary as to what exactly happened. Some say Officer Jody Putnam, who was called to the scene by a concerned employee, fired his service weapon at the rodent and missed, and then doused it with his pepper spray, inadvertently gassing the store's customers in the process. As WJHL reports:
"Shooting back there, of course that should not have been, that should not have happened," said property owner Carl Duffield.
But that didn't work, so he tried another weapon.
Duffield said, "then they began to spray it with mace and pepper spray."
And the mace affected more than just the squirrel.
"There was a lot of people that come out and just like me they came out and they were coughing and a hacking," said Duffield, "It was comical, but I'm sure they didn't feel that way, the customers that came out."
But according to Mountain City's own The Tomahawk, Officer Putnam used the pepper spray first. When that proved unsuccessful, he tried to shoot the rodent with his service weapon, firing at many as three shots before a customer heard the “scream of the squirrel.” The customer reentered the store and found Officer Putnam with the dead animal pinned beneath his shoe.
Despite the obvious danger of firing a handgun—at a squirrel, no less—inside a crowded store, Putnam was not fired for discharging his weapon, according to WBIR. Instead, the City Council and mayor fired him for violating department policy, after he refused to fill out a report about the incident.