A witness to a fatal officer-involved shooting at an Olathe Wal-Mart on Sunday evening said the man was running from police toward the store’s entrance and customers when officers shot him.
Graem Murray of Olathe said Monday he believes the officers “did what needed to be done” and that there was no “malicious forethought” on their behalf.
The incident began about 10:30 p.m. when police responded to reports of a suspicious person at the Wal-Mart near Santa Fe Street and Kansas 7.
Officers found a 50-year-old man allegedly armed with a large blunt object, according to a Monday afternoon news release.
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The man was confrontational with police. Police told him to put the weapon down, but he refused to, according to police.
During the confrontation, the man allegedly struck at least one officer with the object. One officer was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries that were not considered life-threatening and later was released, according to police.
Police tried to subdue the man with less-lethal options, but the man continued to attack officers, said Master Patrol Officer Dan Friesen, the spokesman for the Johnson County Multijurisdictional Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team, which is investigating the fatal shooting.
Investigators weren’t releasing details of the investigation, including the specifics on the less-lethal options that were used, Friesen said.
Murray said that he had stopped by the Wal-Mart near Santa Fe Street and Kansas 7 to pick up frozen chicken for dinner after working at a convenience store in Overland Park.
As he was walking out, a man he thinks was a plain-clothes officer told him and another customer, “Get back inside. Get back inside.”
Murray said he heard and saw a man running, holding something in his hand. Because it was dark outside, he didn’t know for sure what it was, but he could tell it wasn’t a gun.
After he took a step back, Murray said he heard, “Pop. Pop. Pop, pop.”
“Did I just see somebody get shot?” Murray thought at the time.
He pulled out his cellphone and was about to flip it over to the camera app when the plain-clothes officer told him not to. The man put his hand up to block the phone’s view of the shooting.
After that, Murray said he walked to his car. On the way, he saw about eight officers surrounding the man and he noticed what he believed to be spent wires from a stun gun in the parking lot. Murray thought that maybe what he heard was the man being shocked by a stun gun.
It wasn’t until Monday morning that Murray realized that he had witnessed a fatal shooting.
Murray described the incident as surreal.
He said he never heard police tell the man to stop or not to move or warn that they were going to shoot. But he said he didn’t see everything that led up to the shooting, and officers could have already given their warnings. The incident appeared to have started on the side or around the back of the building.
From what he saw, the man was running from officers toward the entrance and customers. He had something in his hand, but he never raised it.
“I heard footsteps, shouting and the shooting,” Murray said.
The man fell about 12 meters — about 39 feet — from the entrance to the store, Murray said.
Murray said he plans to keep his receipt, which has the 22:29:41 time stamp on it.
At one point during the confrontation, the man ran from officers, but then turned back toward them, Friesen said.
Friesen said he was certain that officers had given their warnings to the man because they had “a dialog with him and instructions were given which he ignored.”
The team investigating the fatal shooting is composed of investigators from multiple agencies. The Johnson County crime lab is collecting and examining evidence from the scene.
The officers involved in the fatal shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the the outcome of the investigation.
Anyone with information about the fatal shooting is asked to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).