Howard County Police said a man brandishing a knife was shot by an officer inside BJ's Wholesale Club in Columbia Wednesday morning.
Howard Carvel Smith, 33, of Columbia, was taken to University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he is in critical condition. Police initially said Smith had non-life-threatening injuries, but his condition was changed early in the afternoon.
Police said they received a call at 11:05 a.m. about a man wielding a knife in the automotive section of BJ's Wholesale Club in the 9000 block of Snowden River Parkway. According to police, responding officers repeatedly told Smith to put down the knife, but he refused.
"In that confrontation where he refused to drop the knife, the officer shot the suspect and he was taken to shock trauma," said Sherry Llewellyn, police spokeswoman.
Police said Smith was first confronted by security guards in the main building of BJ's for allegedly shoplifting. According to police, Smith brandished a knife and threatened the guards.
Smth then fled the store through the main entrance and ran across a street toward a Howard County Transit bus stop. Police said Smith still was displaying the knife and had picked up a stick.
Police said he tried to force his way onto the bus, but that the bus driver kept the door closed.
The bus driver, Reynold Griffiths, said he did not see Smith carrying a knife or the stick. Griffiths said Smith used his shoulder to try to open the bus door, resulting in cracking and damage to the glass door.
"I was just trying to get away. I couldn’t really see if he had any object his hand. All I know is the guy run to the bus and try to smash it to get in," Griffiths said. "I kept my door closed trying to protect my passengers on my bus."
Griffiths said Smith looked "angry and frustrated," and was "was kind of a big person."
Griffiths, who said he has been driving the bus for 14 months, said he's "never seen something like this before."
Smith then ran back across the street and into the BJ's tire center, which is located on the side of the building and has a separate entrance. It was there that he was confronted by police. Llewellyn would not comment on whether Smith made an aggressive move toward officers before being shot.
Police said an open folding knife and a large wood stick, similar to a broom stick, were recovered at the scene of the shooting in the tire center.
Police said Smith went to the wholesale club with two acquaintances, but that they were not with him when he was questioned by store security guards. Police later interviewed them before they were released.