One of two officers responding to a shoplifting in progress call at Wal-Mart fired two shots at a suspect during a chase Thursday afternoon in the store at 3515 Victory Drive, authorities said.
Michael Reed was taken into custody near Columbus Bank & Trust across the street and treated at Midtown Medical Center before he was released into police custody. He was booked into the Muscogee County Jail on one count each of obstruction of a law enforcement officer, theft by shoplifting, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and two counts of aggravated assault against a police officer. He is held in the jail for a 9 a.m. Monday hearing in Columbus Recorder’s Court.
Officers Aaron Hoffa and Richard Baran are identified as victims, according to Reed’s arrest report. Neither of the officers was injured in the shooting.
Authorities said they received a call around noon Thursday to investigate a shoplifting in progress. Two officers responded to the scene and identified the suspect in the store who allegedly was opening packages and placing the stolen property in his clothing.
Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren said the suspect fled, and the officers chased him throughout Wal-Mart. He pointed a handgun at officers multiple times during the chase, according to the police chief.
They were in the garden center area in Wal-Mart when shots were fired.
“The officers made it as far as the inside area before you get to the outside garden center within Wal-Mart,” Boren said. “At which time, the guy centered in on the officer and pointed the weapon.”
Police said one of the responding officers shot twice at the suspect, who continued to head out of the store and into the Columbus Bank & Trust parking lot across the street on Benning Drive.
“There at the CB&T the suspect gave up, a weapon was recovered, some clothing was recovered and the individual had an injury to the left arm,” Boren said.
Authorities said it is unclear whether the man was wounded by the bullet discharged from the officer’s weapon.
“We are not sure whether or not the injury to his left arm was caused from the projectile from the officer or if it was caused from him running into things inside the store while he was trying to make his getaway,” Boren said.
Boren said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation will investigate whether the officer caused Reed’s injury. The officer who discharged his weapon was placed on administrative leave pending further investigation.
“If in fact we caused the injury to the individual with a projectile, then the GBI will investigate,” Boren said. “If we did not and his injury was caused from running from the officers, then the Columbus Police Department will investigate. We’ll also do an Office of Professional Standards investigation that will be parallel to the criminal investigation.”
After the incident, police tape blocked off the entrance to the outdoor section of Wal-Mart to the public, but the main entrances remained open. Business in the other sections of Wal-Mart was open.