CHESTER, S.C. (WBTV) – One person has been pronounced dead after an officer-involved shooting at a Walmart south of Charlotte.
The incident happened around 11:15 a.m. Saturday morning at the Chester Walmart off Highway 321 on the J A Cochran Bypass.
Initial reports were that one person was injured from the shooting. The Chester Coroner later confirmed that one person was killed Saturday afternoon.
“I heard a lot of screaming and everyone started running towards the back of the store,” said Debbie Williams.
Williams was shopping inside the Walmart in Chester shopping when she heard screams and shots being fired.
Chester police say they were inside the Walmart for regular safety patrols when they encountered a shoplifter.
Things escalated quickly in the store packed with crowds of shoppers.
“We have to be prepared to respond to any situation regardless of where it is,” said Eric Williams, Chester Police Chief.
Police did not say where, but at some point an officer shot the accused shoplifter.
“I think it’s real fortunate given a situation like this that no other people got hurt,” said Williams. “It’s really unfortunate all times when you lose a life.”
“This was just someone trying to steal something and he got his life took,” said Angela Dillinger, who has lived in Chester for 42 years. “My heart just goes out to the family of this young man and the officers and us the customers.”
Williams tried helping people get out of the store to escape the chaos inside.
“I opened up that door for everybody so everyone could get out of the store and we ran into the woods,” said Williams.
“It’s scary but it’s not shocking because it’s happening in every town, every city,” said Dillinger. “Black Friday is coming up, we don’t know who is going to be out there on Black Friday.”
“I was here shopping to get things shopping for a 4-year-old, not for this. This was just the work of the devil,” said Williams.
The Chester County Sheriff’s office said the Walmart will be closed until further notice.
There is no word on how many officers responded to the shoplifter or how the encounter escalated to use of deadly force.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has been called in to investigate.
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