A 25-year-old developmentally disabled woman has been shot in a Wisconsin supermarket for refusing to lay down a hatchet she had picked up from a shelf. The hatchet-wielding woman was shot by an officer in a Wisconsin Walmart when she launched at him with the hatchet, then taken to hospital with wounds to her abdomen and thigh. The woman died at the hospital hours later, and an autopsy report is to be performed on Sunday.
Chippewa County Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk told Fox News that the woman was shopping with her chaperones at the Lake Hallie Walmart in Wisconsin, between the towns of Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. According to Fox News, the police were called around 5 P.M. after the woman picked up a hatchet from the Walmart’s sporting goods department and began wielding it dangerously.
Officer fatally shoots developmentally disabled woman with a hatchet at Wisconsin Wal-Mart https://t.co/0m9MvLomnR— NBC Chicago (@nbcchicago) April 10, 2016
“The sheriff says a Lake Hallie police officer shot her after she wouldn’t drop the hatchet and lunged at the officer,” reports Fox News.
Sherriff Kowalczyk described the events surrounding the hatchet-wielding woman being shot by an officer in more detail to CBS News.
“Commands were given to [the woman] to drop the [hatchet]. She did not cooperate, and then apparently lunged at the officer, and he did what he is trained to do, and shot her,” said Kowalczyk on Friday.
The hatchet-wielding woman had become agitated and disruptive when her chaperones informed her that it was time to leave the Walmart, raising the attention of staff due to the dangerous nature of the hatchet and her seemingly volatile temperament. The woman was a resident of the Northern Wisconsin Center for the Developmentally Disabled, a facility located in Chippewa Falls, but her name has not been released.
The Walmart store remained open for the entire duration of the hatchet-wielding woman incident, including when she was shot twice – once in the leg and once in the abdomen -and the scene of the shooting was quickly secured by police. Customers were kept at a safe distance from the woman wielding the hatchet by other officers in attendance.
The Chippewa Country Coroner confirmed that the 25-year-old woman died later that Friday night in Eau Claire hospital, having been shot twice in locations predisposed to extensive bleeding. An autopsy will be performed on Sunday.
Due to the tragic and unusual circumstances in which the hatchet-wielding woman was shot by an officer, the sheriff’s department has taken over the investigation previously assigned to Lake Hallie Police Department. Also assisting in a thorough investigation of the events which led to the special needs woman being shot, and her death shortly thereafter, is the Eau Claire Department of Criminal Investigations.
The officer who shot the hatchet-wielding woman will has been placed on administrative leave and will be interviewed by investigators. Until the results of the autopsy and investigation are final and clear, he will remain as such.
Sherriff Kowalczyk explained that the investigation will take a number of things into account.
“Through our investigation we’ve gotten statements from a number of eyewitnesses, and people who were in the vicinity that actually saw the police officer and the actions prior to the shooting,” he told CBS News of the hatchet-wielding woman incident.
He also said that surveillance footage from the store’s CCTV cameras will be reviewed by investigators to help them determine any faults or errors of judgment which may have led to the hatchet-wielding woman being shot by the officer in a Wisconsin Walmart.
[Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images]