HOUSTON (KTRK) — There’s new information in the fatal shooting of a suspected shoplifter at a Houston Walmart. Two women have now been charged, but the investigation is far from over.
The shooting happened just after 10pm Thursday at the Walmart off the North Freeway and West Road. The woman killed was found in a car at an apartment complex off Greens Parkway.
Authorities say a total of three women were stealing from the Walmart — Tiasa Andrews, charged with robbery and assault of a public servant; Yolanda Craig, charged with robbery; and Shelly Frey was shot and killed by a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy working security when the trio tried to get away.
“I was right there by my stairway when I heard all the screaming,” witness Angel Gaines recalled.
Gaines didn’t expect such commotion outside her apartment so late Thursday night, but she soon discovered one of her neighbor’s relatives, bleeding to death, in a parked car.
“She said some security officer shot her at Walmart on West Road,” Gaines said. “She needed help or something. She was trying to find somebody to help her.”
According to investigators, a uniformed Harris County deputy, Louis Campbell, was working an extra job at Walmart Thursday night when two loss prevention officers alerted him to potential shoplifters — women stuffing merchandise in their purses.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Deputy Thomas Gilliland said, “He confronted the suspects at exit of the store before they left. One female wouldn’t stop, struck the deputy with her purse, ran off.”
Deputy Campbell followed the women to their car in the store parking lot to try to stop them.
“When the vehicle took off, he was standing between the door frame and the driver. I think it knocked him off balance and in fear for his life, being run over, he discharged his weapon at that point,” Deputy Gilliland explained.
The driver kept going, arriving at her apartment, where Gaines and her neighbors heard that screaming, wishing they never had.
“You know, there could have been another way around it, of getting her to stop, anything but pulling the trigger,” said neighbor Calvin Mitchell.
Gaines said, “I just wish the officer didn’t shoot her. I wish he would’ve just shot her tires or something just to slow her down.”
Deputy Campbell is on three days paid leave as is standard protocol. He’s been with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for 26 years. The Harris County Sheriff’s Homicide Unit, Office of the Inspector General and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office will investigate this incident. The case will be turned over to a grand jury.
Walmart offered the following statement: “This is a tragic situation and we recognize this is a difficult time for all parties involved. We’re committed to working with law enforcement and providing any information we have as they determine the facts of the case. Because this is an active investigation, any specific details of the incident should come from law enforcement.
We hire off duty officers to provide security to some of our stores. While we have policies in place for our associates to disengage from situations that might put them or others in harm’s way, off-duty officers working at a WM store are authorized to act in accordance with their department’s code of conduct.”