Crime

Armed man in Costco left behind little family, was living in his long-haul truck

The screaming man with a gun who terrorized fleeing customers in a Lenexa Costco on Sunday morning was a tractor-trailer driver who, like many long-haul truckers, apparently lived in the cab of his truck.

Ronald O. Hunt, 58, left his truck for the last time in the Costco parking lot when — for reasons still unknown to investigators — he walked menacingly into the store where he eventually was gunned down inside by an off-duty lawman.

“It does not appear that he had any specific targets,” said Lenexa Police Public Relations Officer Danny Chavez.

Although many witnesses said Hunt threatened them with his gun, there is not yet any indication that Hunt ever fired his weapon, Chavez said.

“His actual motive — why that Costco, why that time, what he was intending to do — we’re still trying to learn that,” Chavez said.

Hunt has proven to be a mystery so far for investigators, who struggled to locate any relatives to let any family know that Hunt had been killed.

Late Monday police finally located a relative in California, but the person had not had any contact with Hunt for a long time, Chavez said. “They were not close.”

The only local address police could find for Hunt was of the Swift Transportation Kansas Terminal in Edwardsville, Kan.

That was the address court records had for Hunt when he was cited in 2015 and pleaded guilty to a traffic charge for carrying too much weight on his truck.

Repeated phone calls to the Edwardsville Swift terminal since Monday afternoon have not been answered.

About three hours after the shooting Sunday afternoon, several investigators searched Hunt’s truck in the lot. He had arrived in the cab hauling no trailer.

Witnesses said he was shouting loudly and threatening people as he neared the front of the store around 11 a.m. Employees attempted to pull down metal security doors but did not make it in time before Hunt stood inside the front door.

“Multiple people have said they were threatened with the gun,” Chavez said.

Employees shouted for customers to flee through and out the back of the store. An off-duty police captain with the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department — Michael Howell — happened to be shopping at that moment. He identified himself to some Costco employees and he eventually engaged Hunt deep inside the store, police said.

Witnesses reported hearing five or six gunshots. Hunt was killed and no one else was injured.

A team of investigators with the Johnson County Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team is continuing its investigation Tuesday, Chavez said.

They are working through a list of some 80 to 100 witnesses, he said. Many were people leaving the parking lot whose contact information was gathered by troopers with the Kansas Highway Patrol. Many witnesses are employees and customers who were inside the store.

The investigators will be looking for any surveillance camera footage as well as reviewing 911 calls. Ballistics investigators will be piecing together evidence of spent shell casings, bullet holes and other physical evidence.

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