A suburban Phoenix town was disrupted by a shooting on Saturday morning. The Chandler, Arizona Walmart erupted in gunfire when two police officers were ambushed.
The shooting began shortly after 6:30 a.m. when police were called to the store in Chandler, Arizona when an employee reported that a local transient who'd previously trespassed there had returned and wasn't leaving. As two officers responded to the call, they faced gunfire from the unidentified male suspect upon entering the Walmart Supercenter. The gunman was located just beyond the greeter's area and, when the two officers approached him at the store's entrance, he turned and opened fire on both of them. The first officer was hit, then the second immediately after, although the second officer was able to return fire, killing the suspect only moments after the shooting began.
Police detective Seth Tyler stated he was uncertain whether the first officer was able to return fire, but that the second officer who responded shot the suspect, killing him. The first officer was reportedly hit in the head during the exchange of fire. Tyler was grateful both officers were wearing their vests and had survived the shooting.
"When the first officer walked into the store, the suspect began firing at the officer immediately. You can call it what you want. It sounds like an ambush to me."
In January 2015, he pleaded no contest on the destruction of a public jail charge as well as a charge for vehicle theft. He was to serve time for those charges concurrently, with a separate sentence for attempted aggravated assault, then two years of probation for a separate drug charge.
Oakley was out of prison after two months, after having been in jail for 990 days in the Maricopa County jail. He's been out of prison since March of 2015.
At one point he was placed in a rehab program with the county after being declared criminally incompetent. That decision was reversed, and his prior sentencing was upheld. As for the Walmart store in Chandler where the shooting occurred, his history is unknown other than employees recognizing him for previously trespassing.
Oakley's extensive history on the wrong side of the law ended in gunfire. Fortunately, both the officers that Oakley shot were wearing their bullet-proof vests and were able to return fire in time to stop the suspect from shooting anyone else. Three others were reportedly hurt, but had not been shot. In a news conference, Chandler Police Chief Sean Duggan expressed gratitude that both officers are alive and recovering.
"A seemingly routine call turned into a deadly encounter within a split second."Cynthia Ayala, a local resident, was shopping in the Chandler Walmart at the time of the shooting. She at first thought the sound must be falling pallets, only to realize moments later that it was gunfire.
"And I was really scared. I didn't know if the bullets were going to come back down and hit me. I was really scared as to where they would fall."She was in the dressing room when the shooting began. She heard the gunshots ring out and, terrified, she remained until after things had settled down. At that time, Walmart employees escorted her, along with other frightened shoppers, to the garden center. Once she finally was able to exit the store hours after the shooting, her car was cordoned off with police tape so she continued to wait with other shoppers.
Both officers were wearing their bullet-proof vests, and are in stable condition. One of the officers was shot in the face and required surgery. At the latest report, according to CNN, one officer was in the ICU, and the other had been released. The names of the officers haven't been released yet, pending notification of relatives.
Several hours after the Walmart shooting, the store remained closed. The suspect, Matthew Oakley, was a known transient with family members in the area. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
[Photo by Terry Tang/AP Images]