A man was shot by Baltimore County police officers Tuesday afternoon in an incident that deeply rattled customers at a Randallstown shopping center.
Police said the man had been suspected of shoplifting at the Liberty Court shopping center just before 4:30 p.m. Officers who were called to the scene of the parking lot near the Dollar Store approached the suspect, who ran inside the Aldi grocery store in the 8600 block of Liberty Road.
Baltimore County police spokesman Shawn Vinson said officers followed the man into the store, when they realized he was holding some type of weapon. Vinson could not confirm what kind of weapon or weapons the man was holding.
Kimberly Lovitt said she was in the parking lot when the man fled. She didn’t know him, but she called out to him anyway. “Boy, don’t run from these officers,” she said. “They going to hurt you.” She saw him disappear into the grocery store and said she told officers: “Don't shoot that boy. Y’all better not shoot that baby.”
Sonja Wallace said she was about to enter the checkout line at Aldi when the man ran into the store with what she described as a machete.
“I was just like, ‘What is he doing in a grocery store with a machete?’ ” Wallace said early Thursday night, standing in the parking lot of the Aldi. “I got more scared when I started hearing the commotion and the gunshots because I was like, ‘Oh, my God, is this another mass shooting?’ ”
Vinson said that during the altercation, at least one officer fired a service weapon, striking the suspect. He said he could not say how many times the officer’s gun was fired. Wallace and other witnesses at the scene said three to five shots were fired.
The man was taken to a local hospital, but his condition is unknown. One officer suffered minor injuries, police said.
Lovitt said the police officer didn’t need to fire at the suspect. “He wasn’t threatening them. He wasn’t lunging at them. He wasn’t swinging [his weapon] at them.” Sitting in the driver’s seat in her car, with her great niece in the back seat, Lovitt said police shot the man in the chest and she believes they killed him.
“I saw that young man die.”
Vinson told reporters that the department would conduct a criminal investigation of the incident as well as an administrative investigation of the circumstances leading up to the shooting, as is typical in police-involved shootings. The officer or officers involved would likely be placed on administrative leave after its outcome.
The crime scene had yellow police tape outside the grocery store and the nearby Hibachi Grill and Supreme Buffet restaurant. Several police vehicles and ambulances were in the parking lot of the shopping center.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Aldi said the retailer was cooperating with police and that the store would be closed until further notice.
“We are serious about safety and our primary concern is for the well-being of our employees, our customers and our community,” the statement said. “We’re thankful that no employees or customers were injured during the incident that occurred today at our Randallstown ALDI store.”
The shooting is the first shooting by a county officer this year.
Last year, a Baltimore County police officer shot a man suspected of shoplifting in Rosedale. The same officer, First Class McCain of the Parkville district, a 17-year veteran of the department, fatally shot a man who was allegedly attempting to steal detergent from a Giant Food in Catonsville in 2017. The officer was not charged with a crime.