CHEHALIS, Wash. - A Chehalis Walmart Supercenter customer spotted what appeared to be a firearm that had been left within reach behind a sales counter Tuesday.
The customer snapped a photo of the apparent firearm and shared it with friends.
Within 20 minutes, that photo made its way on to the KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Facebook page.
"Chehalis Walmart, taken about 1915 hours on 1/15/2013 by buddy of mine.. What a bunch of idiots!" Randy Tobler wrote on the photo post.
KIRO 7 responded almost immediately with a note of thanks to Tobler, and then began an investigation into the facts behind the photo.
Richard Thompson, KIRO 7 Eyewitness News South Sound Bureau Chief, showed the photo to the Chehalis Police Department.
Police checked in with Wal-Mart staff and determined that the photo depicted an Airsoft gun: a replica of an actual firearm.
"The tip didn't lead to a story that we aired on air," Amy Duncan, KIRO 7 Eyewitness News social media producer, said. "This example does, however, illustrate the value we place on tips from our viewers, as well as the process we go through to vet those tips."
You can post story ideas and news tips to the KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Facebook wall here. You can also tweet @KIRO7Seattle, email email@example.com, use this online form or call (206) 728-8308 or 1-800-777-KIRO.