Police on Monday identified the man who was shot down in a Lenexa Costco Sunday morning after standing inside the store screaming while holding a handgun.
Lenexa police say Ronald O. Hunt, 58, of Edwardsville, Kan., died after he was shot by an off-duty police officer who confronted Hunt while customers and employees fled to the back of the store.
Police said Hunt was inside the business yelling and threatening customers when officers were summoned.
The officer who shot him was a Kansas City, Kan., police captain with 22 years of experience. He happened to be shopping when the incident began around 11 a.m., the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department reported.
The captain — Michael Howell — “was confronted with a deadly force situation, during which time he discharged his firearm killing an armed assailant,” the Police Department’s written statement said.
The investigation of the shooting and the search for why Hunt went into the store was continuing, Lenexa police said.
Missouri court records show that Hunt pleaded guilty in 2015 to a traffic violation for carrying too much weight on a truck, and the address given for Hunt was the Swift Transportation terminal in Edwardsville.
Meanwhile, many people went onto social media to thank the then-unknown off-duty officer.
Earlier, Kansas City, Kan., Police Chief Terry Ziegler had retweeted some Twitter messages thanking the Kansas City, Kan., officer for potentially saving lives.
One of the messengers, whose tweet Ziegler passed on, wanted “to thank your officer for being in the right place at the right time. He may have saved many lives today.”
The shooting is being investigated by the Johnson County Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team.
The incident began around 11 a.m. Sunday when employees at the front of the store at 9350 Marshall Drive began shouting alarms of danger.
Witnesses said a man was shouting and had a gun in his left hand. Employees tried to shut chain-operated metal security doors but couldn’t get them down in time before the man entered the store.
Employees shouted at customers to run through to the back of the store. Most were outside the back or hiding in the store when they said they heard five or six gunshots. The off-duty officer fatally shot the armed man and no one else was injured.
The store remained closed the rest of the day Sunday, and customers and employees had to remain nearby — many for several hours — as police conducted their investigation.
M.G. Casey, 29, was at the Costco with his wife on a routine Sunday shopping trip when chaos broke out.
A day later, he reflected on how well the store employees reacted to the emergency and how helpful they were to the shoppers stuck in the middle of the incident.
The Olathe couple had just finished checking out and were in the food court, near the front of the store, waiting on a pizza when store employees came rushing in through both the entrance and exit doors, ushering customers toward the back.
“It was just a quick rush of everyone running out,” Casey said. “I heard an employee say there was an active shooting.”
Casey and his wife fled with the crowd, leaving their purchases behind, and exited through the back of the store.
“The employees were finding every customer — no one was being left behind,” he said. “It was some reaction time. I was shocked at how quick they were able to get everyone out. They were on top of it.”
Outside, the crowd of customers and employees milled around for about an hour in a neighborhood next to the Costco. Employees, in contact with police, urged shoppers to stay put. They heard gunshots some distance away.
As they group waited, employees brought out cases of water and nearby residents brought out lawn chairs for elderly people in the crowd.
Eventually, they were all allowed to leave.
A day later, on Monday, Costco called Casey and his wife to tell them their merchandise — which they had abandoned in the evacuation — was on hold at the store.
“We hadn’t even contacted them about that,” Casey said. “So, very impressive customer service.”