A pair of carjackings and a chaotic hunt for a suspect ended Sunday afternoon with the shooting death of an armed man by a civilian in the parking lot of a Walmart superstore in Tumwater, according to police and witnesses.
Tumwater Police spokeswoman Laura Wohl said the driver of a car the suspect was attempting to carjack was also shot. He was taken by air ambulance to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Susan Gregg, a spokeswoman at Harborview, said the man was in critical condition late Sunday.
A third victim, a 16-year-old girl, was injured — but not seriously — near Tumwater High School, police said. Wohl did not know whether the girl had been shot.
Police did not release the names of anyone involved.
Wohl said the chaotic string of incidents began just before 5 p.m. Sunday with a report of a possibly intoxicated, erratic driver near Tumwater High School. Wohl said that while police were en route there, the department received reports of a carjacking and shots fired at a nearby intersection. That is when the 16-year-old was injured, police said.
While officers were attempting to locate the vehicle, police received reports of additional shots fired about 2 miles away at the Walmart, where the suspect reportedly abandoned the first stolen car and tried to carjack another vehicle. When the driver wouldn’t give him the car, the man shot him, Wohl said. The suspect apparently was trying to carjack yet another vehicle when an armed civilian intervened and shot the man, Wohl said.
Wohl said two armed bystanders moved to confront the suspect, and at least one of them fired. The investigation is continuing, she said.
Brian Adams had been shopping and took cover behind vehicles in the Walmart parking lot. Adams said he wound up being near where the suspect was eventually shot.
Adams called the bystander who fired on the suspect a hero.
“This guy could have taken out more people, wounded or killed,” said Adams.
Wohl said that during the attempted carjackings, the man apparently fired into other vehicles as well. Witnesses recounted hearing numerous gunshots.
The suspect’s body remained in the parking lot behind yellow police crime-scene tape for several hours. Police conducted an extensive search of the area for shell casings and other evidence.
Wohl said she said didn’t know if the shooter ever entered the Walmart, though customers said they heard shots that sounded like they were fired in the building.
Darren Gossler of Elma told the Tacoma News Tribune that he was in the store when the shooting started. He tweeted: “I was in the dairy section. Heard about 5 or 6 pops. Ran out a side emergency exit and attempted to run to my car in the parking lot but heard 4 more pops in the lot. Caught a quick glimpse of a male with what appeared to be a handgun. Ducked under some cars and ran to Costco.”
Robert Berwick had stepped into Walmart to buy briquettes and a water filter. He was in the back of store when he heard shots in the building.
He began to run and found his way out through an exit by the store’s pharmacy.
“There were all kinds of people running out,” said Berwick, 54, of Olympia.
About 25 people gathered outside a gas station adjacent to the Walmart, many wearing company uniforms.
Some of them directed vehicles away from the store parking lot, which was ringed with yellow tape. Washington State Patrol and Thurston County Sheriff trucks shuttled in and out of the Walmart lot.
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