An unidentified 22-year-old man carrying a loaded AR-15 semi-automatic rifle shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday was questioned and released by police at the Kroger at Hydraulic Road and Emmet Street.
Charlottesville police Lt. Ronnie Roberts said the man did not break any laws. Since he legally owned the rifle and it was not concealed, he was within his rights, Roberts said.
Virginia requires a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but has no such restriction on guns in plain view.
According to police, the man originally entered the store unarmed, then went back to his car and retrieved his rifle. He then walked back into the store briefly before leaving again.
Though he was not arrested, store managers barred him from the property, officials said.
Shopper Monica Green said she fled the store and called 911 after she saw the man. Green said she warned people in the parking lot not to enter the store.
"It's amazing because some people didn't want to believe it was true, they just stood there like sitting ducks," Green said. When she saw the man in was in custody, Green finished her shopping.
Roberts was not sure why the man was carrying a gun.
"It was most likely a demonstration of his Second Amendment rights," he said. "Open carry laws allow you to do that ... the difference here is he had an AR-15, which you can't conceal. You can do the same thing with a gun on your hip."