ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A Walmart customer who stepped in to help an employee stop shoplifters from fleeing the store ended up shooting and killing one of the individuals, deputies said.
The gunman told investigators he fired because he thought one of the shoplifters was reaching for a weapon.
The shooting was reported at about 8 a.m. Saturday at the Walmart in the 5500 block of Clarcona Ocoee Road, deputies said .
The 19-year-old, who was hit multiple times, shooting victim was not immediately identified.
Witness Renee Kirmani told Channel 9 she saw the four individuals pushing carts filled with diapers and other baby items to a car in the parking lot as a Walmart employee chased after them.
“I see them surrounding the car (and) the boys throwing stuff in,” she said. “(The employee) was like, ‘Don’t get in the car.'”
Kirmani said she was too busy taking cover to see the shooting take place.
“That I didn’t see,” she said. “I heard shots and then we just ducked down, because we didn’t know where the shots were going.”
The 19-year-old shooting victim ran to a nearby gas station while the other three men jumped in the car, which turned out to be stolen, but crashed before they could get away, deputies said.
Orange County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Angelo Nieves said the four suspects got into the maroon Nissan Rogue and fled the scene. The Nissan was reported stolen during a carjacking on Jan. 13, deputies said.
Deputies said the driver hit two vehicles in the parking lot, causing one of the cars to spin.
The suspects then fled from the vehicle, and the suspect who was shot by the witness ended up at a Citgo gas station.
Deputies responded to that scene, and the suspect was taken to the hospital where he died, authorities said.
he three other suspects were still on the loose, investigators said.
Deputies said the investigation is ongoing and the witness who opened fire is cooperating with the investigation.
Deputies have not said if the witness will face any charges.
Workers at the Citgo told Channel 9 the injured suspect walked in and fell to the floor. They said they could tell he was shot multiple times in the leg and stomach.
Deputies are interviewing witnesses and going through surveillance video to see if the four suspects were armed.
Channel 9 contacted Walmart to learn about the company’s loss prevention policy, but the company declined to comment.