On Sunday, a man walked into a Walmart store in Lilburn, Georgia, armed with a gun.
His intention was apparently to steal three flat-screen TVs. But loss prevention officers caught him as he tried to leave and pressed him with questions. The suspect drew his weapon at one worker, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
One of those officers, 25-year-old Jaseramie Dion “JD” Ferguson, was shot and killed. He was a husband and father to three young kids and had only been working at Walmart seven months.
His father, David Nash, confirmed that his son was unarmed when he was killed, he told WSB-TV.
“[His killer] had every intention of doing something. He went in with a weapon, and my son, as courageous as he was, he encountered him and it happened, but it shouldn’t have.”
The shooting has been called senseless, and police are now on the hunt for the suspect, who can be seen carting the pilfered TVs on security footage. He didn’t end up leaving with them.
The incident happened shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday.
Security footage captured the suspect trying to roll his cart out of Walmart with the three shoplifted TVs. The worker confronted him about not paying for the items, police Capt. Thom Bardugan recounted.
“He was stopped, asked for his receipt. He said he didn’t have one. They said, ‘Come back in, we’ll get you a receipt.’ He then said, ‘I don’t want the receipt and I don’t want the TVs anymore.'”
The suspect pulled out his gun and shot Jaseramie in the stomach. The worker was taken to a hospital nearby, where he died of his injuries. He is the first person to be killed by homicide this year in Lilburn; two homicides were reported last year.
Several customers were in Walmart when the worker was killed. One of them was Victoria Lagunas, who was heartbroken to learn the young father died of his wounds. She and her husband wanted to help after hearing the gunshot, but didn’t know where the gunman was or if he planned to shoot others.
“That’s something that’s going to be with me forever. He had been shot and he was bleeding and people were running in all kind of directions. It’s just sad how there’s people out there that just in order to get whatever they want…. they’ll go through everything and anyone.”
Security guards at Walmart are generally not in law enforcement and don’t carry weapons. Sometimes, the retailer hires off-duty cops, but not in this particular store.
Bardugan revealed that investigators don’t know what prompted the shoplifter’s actions and why he killed the worker.
“We don’t know. You never know what someone is thinking.”
Ferguson’s mother, Falesa Nash, called the shooting “senseless.” According to WSB-TV, she wept when asked about the shoplifter who killed her son.
“I’d like for him to know that he’s taken away a good loving son, father, friend,” she cried. “He was just the most loving, caring person.”
He also had big dreams of becoming a police officer in Fulton County. He leaves behind a wife, Tiana, the couple’s 1-year-old son Jordan, and daughters Aryana, 3, and Ava, 3 months.
“It’s still hitting me every hour that he’s gone,” said the worker’s sister, Abreanna Ferguson.
Police said that after he killed Ferguson, the suspect left Walmart in an older model, red four-door sedan. He’s described as “5-feet-9 inches tall, having a medium build and a bald or shaved head. He was seen wearing a gray denim button down shirt and dark pants.”
The Lilburn Walmart released a statement following the incident.
“We are deeply saddened by the senseless and tragic loss of our friend and colleague last night. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the Ferguson family at this difficult time. We will continue to support law enforcement in their ongoing investigation.”
[Image via Tupungato/Shutterstock]