Houston, TX | A suspected Walmart shoplifter was shot dead by an off-duty deputy in Texas last week, the second fatal incident involving a shoplifting allegation and the big box retailer in less than a month.
The suspected Walmart shoplifter was a 27-year-old mother of two, fatally shot by the off-duty sheriff’s deputy at a Houston Walmart. Police have identified the victim of the Walmart shoplifting shooting as Shelly Frey, and local news sources give the following account of the event’s leading up to the fracas that claimed her life:
“Harris County Sheriff’s deputies have said that victim Shelly Frey, Tisa Andrews and Yolanda Craig were stealing when they were confronted by Louis Campbell a 26-year veteran of the force who works as a security guard at the store … According to Campbell the women ran to their car and when he rushed to open the door, they accelerated away – at which point he fired the deadly shot into the car which hit Frey in the neck.”
Witnesses claim Frey and her friends had been stuffing items into their purses prior to the shooting, and that the three had attempted to cover up the theft by purchasing other items before they fled the store.
According to Harris County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Deputy Thomas Gilliland, the off-duty cop only shot the suspected Walmart shoplifter to death when he believed the driver intended on running him down in an attempt to abscond with the alleged stolen merchandise:
“She threw it in reverse and tried to run over the deputy … He confronted the suspects at exit of the store before they left. One female wouldn’t stop, struck the deputy with her purse, ran off … I think it knocked him off balance and, in fear of his life and being ran over, he discharged his weapon at that point.”
While police paint an unflattering picture of the Walmart shoplifting shooting, the family and friends of Frey recall a woman who worked hard to start a new life after Hurricane Katrina, and one who struggled to raise a 2-year-old suffering from Sickle Cell Anemia — decrying the officer who shot at a vehicle with two small kids inside.
In response to the Walmart shoplifting shooting, the retailer issued the following statement regarding loss prevention, force and the death of Shelly Frey:
“This is a tragic situation and we recognize this is a difficult time for all parties involved. We’re committed to working with law enforcement and providing any information we have as they determine the facts of the case. Because this is an active investigation, any specific details of the incident should come from law enforcement … We hire off duty officers to provide security to some of our stores. While we have policies in place for our associates to disengage from situations that might put them or others in harm’s way, off-duty officers working at a WM store are authorized to act in accordance with their department’s code of conduct.”
Frey’s mother Sharon Wilkerson told KHOU she wants answers in her daughter’s death:
“Why couldn’t you just shoot the tire, shoot the window? … Was it that serious? … How do I tell these children she’s not coming back?”
The officer responsible for the Walmart shoplifter shooting death is currently on administrative leave.