Two people are dead in Beavercreek, Ohio, after a man came into a local Walmart store and allegedly waved a rifle at customers.
The 2 NEWS website writes that the incident happened at 8:30 pm Tuesday night when a Cincinnati man named John Crawford entered Walmart and was spotted with what looked like a rifle near the pet supplies department by another customer, who dialed 911.
Walmart customer James Thrush reported to the 911 dispatcher that the rifle was being waved around and pointed at shoppers.
“I looked farther down the aisle and saw a guy with a gun. I couldn’t tell if it was a toy gun. Then I heard gunshots and started running to the front.”
The store erupted in chaos as shoppers bolted for the exits.
Associated Press has reported that the shooting occurred in a Dayton suburb, at the 3360 Pentagon Boulevard Walmart; the store was evacuated and was closed for the night.
The Beavercreek police chief stated Tuesday night that several aspects of the case remained under investigation and that he would hold a press conference when he could give a more complete picture of what happened in Walmart when John Crawford was confronted by the cops.
The local authorities say that their initial investigations into the shooting suggest that the officers responded in a correct manner to the threat of a loaded weapon. Speaking with reporters by Associated Press reporters by email, Walmart spokesperson Brooke Buchanan said that the company is working with investigators.
Police have confirmed that they were forced to shoot Crawford as they attempted to arrest him and he refused to comply with their verbal orders to drop the weapon.
John Crawford, 22, died at a local hospital of his wounds. It’s unclear how many times he was shot. He was the father of two young children.
There is some question as to whether the suspect, a young African-American male, was genuinely threatening Walmart customers with a real rifle or a toy, and his family have stated that his death might be racially motivated.
The mother of his children, Leecee Johnson, has told a 2 NEWS reporter that she was on the phone with Crawford at the time of the shooting.
“He said it wasn’t real and I was trying to figure out what he was saying wasn’t real and then I heard later on that it was a gun that was in Walmart the little playstation where the Walmart guns are at.”
Johnson went on to explain that she was on the phone for almost an hour as officers discussed Crawford’s wounds and attempted to turn his body.
According to the WHIO news website, a woman who was with Crawford in Walmart and has been identified as his girlfriend, Tasha Thomas, said that he did not have a gun but may have picked up a toy gun while in the toy aisle.
Also dead is a 37-year-old mother of four, Angela Williams of Fairborn, who collapsed in the store from a heart condition and died. The coroner’s office has stated that she was not shot.
Williams was in the Beavercreek Walmart shopping with two of her children; her list likely included school supplies and items for her upcoming wedding, which was scheduled to happen this Saturday. She collapsed in the store Tuesday night in front of her 10-year-old daughter.
Angela Williams was the Director of Education at the Villa Springfield Health and Rehabilitation Center. She worked as a practical nurse for two years before becoming the facility’s director, responsible for hiring and training personnel.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation will be closely examining the incident and decide whether the shooting was justified. Both officers involved are on paid administrative leave. The investigation is expected to take several months.
Walmart has expressed its sorrows through company spokesperson Brian Nick.
“We are deeply saddened about the loss of life…and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of everyone involved. We are still learning information about the events surrounding this tragedy, and assisting police in their ongoing investigation.”
[Image Courtesy of WDTN Photo/Brad Livesay]