A substantial police response to a reported armed robbery at a West End sporting goods store over the weekend turned out to be a false alarm, according to the Billings Police Department.

Police received a call Saturday at around 5 p.m. from an off-duty Universal Athletic Services employee who had reportedly gotten a text from a co-worker, stating that a pair of men wearing masks were in the store with rifles.

"So obviously, that raised a lot of alarm bells for us," Sgt. Shane Winden said Monday.

A large detail of officers responded to the reported incident, prompting subsequent rumors on social media that a robbery had taken place either at Universal Athletics or Hobby Lobby, located in the same shopping plaza.

After reviewing video surveillance, Billings Police determined that two men had indeed entered the store wearing masks, "probably because it was cold out," Winden said.

There was no indication that either of the men had any weapons.

A store manager at Universal Athletic declined to comment Monday.


Morning Reporter

General assignment reporter for the Billings Gazette.