An Ohio “gunman” inside of a Walmart store may have been carrying nothing more than a toy gun. John Crawford, 22, of Fairfield, was gunned down and killed Tuesday night by police inside of Walmart in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek. Crawford was shot at least two times in the pet supply section after a brief and tense standoff with responding officers.
Reports CBS News on Wednesday: “Beavercreek police say the man was shot at around 8 p.m. after waving a rifle-type weapon around inside the store, including around children. Officers shot him after he failed to comply with verbal orders. He died later at a hospital.”
The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office confirmed that Crawford was transported to the Miami Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead Tuesday night. A second victim from the incident – 37-year-old Angela Williams, of Fairborn – suffered a “medical condition” inside of the store and was pronounced dead.
“She was apparently running from a dangerous situation inside the Walmart store when she collapsed. She was taken to Soin Medical Center where she died at 9:14 p.m. An autopsy is expected to be performed today,” Beavercreek police said in a release.
Customer Jerry Hensley, 40, said he drove into the Walmart lot Tuesday night and saw dozens of people running from the store in a panic. Employees advised Hensley that there was an “active shooter” situation going on inside.
“It was very chaotic,” he said. “Some people were really shaken up, and some people were really close to the shooting.”
Police say Crawford refused to comply with their orders to drop his weapon and get on the ground. They said that the gunman was carrying some sort of “rifle-type weapon” around the store. Media outlets are reporting that Crawford was either carrying a toy weapon, or possibly a BB gun. The Beavercreek Walmart does sell weapons, and officials confirmed that Crawford did not bring the gun into the store with him.
Walmart issued a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“We are deeply saddened about the loss of life last night and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of everyone involved,” spokesman Brian Nick said. “We are still learning information about the events surrounding this tragedy, and assisting police in their ongoing investigation.”
Tasha Thomas, Crawford’s girlfriend, who was with Crawford inside of the Walmart, told media that her boyfriend “may have picked up a toy gun from the toy aisle.”
“I just heard them shooting him like he was nothing and he was telling them that it wasn’t real and they didn’t even give him a chance to respond. They just shot,” Johnson said, sobbing.
The Attorney General’s Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) unit is now investigating the shooting. Police and the BCI thus far have refused to say whether the weapon Crawford apparently had was real or fake.
“BCI is going to look at the entire situation and look at what happened and what led up to the incident and how the officers responded,” commented BCI spokesperson Jill Del Greco. “We will not make a determination of if the shooting was justified or not.”
Ron and April Ritchie witnessed the shooting, and told the Dayton Daily News that they believe Crawford may have had a BB gun that was removed from its box. April, who has a broken ankle, was riding a Walmart scooter when she witnessed the incident.
“He got on his cell phone right after he walked past me,” April said. “Anytime I saw people walking his way, I would get their attention.”
April said Crawford had a “don’t come near me” look and “just kept messing with [the gun] and I heard a clicking.”
Ron Ritche said Crawford “was just waving it at children and people. I couldn’t hear anything that he was saying. I’m thinking that he is either going to rob the place or he’s there to shoot somebody else. He didn’t really want to be looked at and when people did look at him, he was pointing the gun at them. He was pointing at people.”
April said she heard police tell Crawford to “put it down, put it down.”
“I heard two shots after I saw him turn. He still had the weapon in his hand,” she said.
Ron said, in his opinion, Crawford “looked like he was going to go violently. If he would have dropped the weapon, he could have came out with his life. But, unfortunately, he didn’t.”
Stay here for updates to this story as they become available.