CHESTER, SC (WBTV) - The man killed in an officer-involved shooting at a Walmart in Chester, South Carolina Saturday morning has been identified by the coroner as 28-year-old Ariane Lamont McCree.
The incident happened around 11:15 a.m. at the Walmart off Hwy 321 on the J A Cochran Bypass.
Chester police say they encounter a person, later identified as McCree, shoplifting at the Walmart and placed him in custody.
“While in custody, the suspect physically assaulted one of the officers and fled Walmart on foot. During the foot pursuit, the suspect presented a firearm resulting in two officers with the Chester Police Department discharging their firearms," police say.
McCree was given medical attention on scene but later died from his injuries.
The coroner says McCree was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division was immediately contacted to investigate the shooting. The two Chester police officers involved have been placed on administrative leave as the investigation continues.
“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 the suspect.
Things escalated quickly in the store through 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 exactly where the officer shot the alleged 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.
Officers in the department say Monday that they’re doing “good,” to try to put the “bad” situation out of mind.
“We’re human also, and we wanted to make someone’s Thanksgiving a happy one,” Williams said.
Packing up meals to donate for the holiday, and at the same time, providing prayer and counseling for the multiple officers involved in the deadly shooting, two days ago.
“Everyone digests these incidents differently, and with that being said, we need to make sure the services are provided to these officers.” Williams said.
Meanwhile, some shoppers are wondering how safe the upcoming holiday weekend will be.
“Black Friday is coming up, we don’t know who is going to be out there on Black Friday,” Williams said.
Williams says there was a plan already for more police presence during this busy week. That won’t change.
“Do your shopping, do the things you need to do, just don’t be surprised if you see us there,” Williams said.