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'Concerned citizen' fires gun at suspected shoplifters in Johnson City Walmart parking lot

Becky Campbell • Updated Jan 26, 2018 at 5:31 PM

A local man with a valid handgun carry permit fired his gun at three people he believed were shoplifters after he watched them taking merchandise and leaving Walmart on West Market Street Friday morning, a Johnson City Police supervisor said.

Capt. Brian Rice said 911 received at least three calls about a shot or shots being fired in the store parking lot around 8 a.m. When police arrived, they spoke to a man, whose name was not released, about his involvement.

“A citizen observed some people shoplifting items in the store,” Rice said. “He confronted them in the parking lot and one person pulled a weapon on him. The citizen, who has a valid handgun carry permit, fearing for his safety, pulled his weapon and fired one shot.”

No charges had been placed against the shooter.

According to a press release from the department, the unnamed man saw a suspicious man with a buggy containing several items that were not bagged. He followed the person out of the store and as that man was loading items into an early 2000s gray Jeep Cherokee, the concerned man asked to see a receipt.

The man the patron believed was shoplifting jumped into the passenger’s side of the Jeep and that’s when the driver “displayed what the patron believed to be a handgun and pointed it in his direction,” police said in the release.

The patron then pulled out his own gun and fired one shot toward the Jeep.

Rice said there was no indication anyone in the Jeep was hit by a bullet. Witnesses gave police a description of the vehicle, which was later determined to have been a car stolen in Bristol,Tennessee, four days ago. The vehicle’s tag number was 6D1-5Z9. The middle row passenger’s window was covered in plastic, police said.

Police said a second concerned citizen followed the Jeep onto McKinley Road, where the driver of the Jeep stopped, got out of the vehicle, and again brandished a weapon and told the citizen to stop following him. Witnesses told police there was one white man, a second man of unknown race and one white female in the Jeep. Investigators have photos of the suspects and vehicle and will retrieve any surveillance footage that captured anything related to the incident.

During the investigation, officers recovered approximately $1,350 in items left by the suspects.

Johnson City Police are asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 423-434-6158. To text an anonymous tip, text “423JCPD” and your tip to 847411.

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Reported earlier:

A local man with a valid handgun carry permit fired his gun at three suspected shoplifters after he watched them taking merchandise and leaving Walmart on West Market Street Friday morning, a Johnson City Police supervisor said.

Capt. Brian Rice said 911 received at least three calls about a shot or shots being fired in the store parking lot around 8 a.m. When police arrived, they spoke to a man, whose name was not released, about his involvement.

“A citizen observed some people shoplifting items in the store,” Rice said. “He confronted them in the parking lot and one person pulled a weapon on him. The citizen, who has a valid handgun carry permit, fearing for his safety, pulled his weapon and fired one shot.”

He said there was no indication that any of the suspects were hit by a bullet.

Witnesses gave police a description of the vehicle and the tag number, which was later determined to have been a car stolen in Bristol, Virginia, a few days ago.

Keep visiting JohnsonCityPress.com for more details as they become available.

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