A loss prevention officer at a South Sacramento Walmart was shot in the face with a flare gun, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. Deputies have arrested the suspected shooter, who they said was a minor being questioned for shoplifting at the time.
There were hundreds of holiday shoppers nearby, according to deputies.
"And then someone came running past saying, 'a gun a gun,'" said Audrey Peoples, who was inside at the time shopping for Christmas cards. "I actually ran back into the store, up an aisle because I thought, 'I don't want to get shot.'"
"I just heard a real loud boom, and then I turned around and dude was bleeding and there was a flare all in that little area," said Travell Brown, who works as a Salvation Army bell ringer and saw the loss prevention officer was in bad shape. "He was bleeding a lot, I actually was scared, I didn't know what to do."
Deputies said it started when the suspect was allegedly caught shoplifting. The loss prevention officer took him into his back office when the minor pulled the flare gun, which deputies believe he brought with him, and fired it. The Walmart employee was injured but is OK, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.
"However, the flare gun set off smoke alarms when the fire department came and evacuated the building," said Lt. Dean Pai with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.
The loss prevention officer was able to keep the minor in custody until deputies arrived. No one else was injured, but shoppers told FOX40 even after everything was over, the shooting had them on edge.
"Even now, my stomach is going, I feel like I'm going to cry," Peoples told FOX40 shortly after the shooting.
"(And) a lot of kids was right there when that happened too," Brown said.
Pai said the minor could face assault with a deadly weapon and robbery charges. He also said the suspect had two other people with him during the shoplifting incident that ran away, both now wanted for questioning.
But those two other suspects were not in the store when the flare gun was fired, according to Pai.