LENEXA, Kan. – A man who walked into a crowded Costco Wholesale store in a Kansas City suburb brandishing a gun was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer Sunday, officials said. One shopper said, “He saved everyone, and he saved my life. I am thankful for him.”
At about 11 a.m., the gun-toting man entered the store in Lenexa, Kan., located about 14 miles southwest of downtown Kansas City, police said.
Ryan Vacca told FOX 4 Kansas City he was working at the Costco photo center when he heard “some commotion.”
“I turned and looked at the front door and saw a guy walking in – just kind of yelling and screaming,” Vacca said. “One of my co-workers told me to drop, and I did.”
But thanks goodness there was an armed off-duty officer present during the incident.
Lenexa Police Capt. Wade Borchers told FOX 4 the off-duty police officer happened to be at the store, and immediately jumped in to subdue the man as shoppers fled toward exits.
“He was just shopping, and he happened to be there while all this occurred. And you know, thankfully, he was,” Borchers said.
Currently, authorities have not released the names of the suspect or officer.
Some people who had to be treated for panic attacks but there were no other injuries, police told FOX 4.
Shopper Nikki Lotia told the news agency she heard four shots. As a result, she ran and hid in the store’s pharmacy area.
“I saw the crowd running, and it said ‘run at the back, run at the back!’ So I started running,” she said. “Instead of running with the crowd towards the back, I went towards the pharmacy area.”
All she could do was look for a place to hide.
“I just grabbed two chairs and I just went into the corner.”
“My phone says I called 911 around 11:11. And I could hear the guy (on the phone) asking, ‘what’s your emergency?’ And I was so scared and shaking. I didn’t want to say anything loud, so I just kind of whispered, ‘shooting, you know, Costco.'”
Then, Lotia sent a text message to her son, Ali.
“Around 11:15, she texted me that there’s a shooting going on and I’m hiding,” Ali said. “So I freaked out.”
Ali showed FOX 4 the text messages she sent while hiding in the store. For every three Ali received, she sent one; worried any sound would attract attention.
“And soon, I heard four shots, you know? Like, I heard, duh-duh-duh-duh-duh. And I thought, ‘oh my God.’ And I just kept there, and started praying.”
She made it home safely, though for a time, she thought she wouldn’t.
“It was very scary,” she said. “That 45 minutes of my life. All of the time I was thinking, ‘this might be my last day.'”
Finally, Lotia had much to grateful for this Thanksgiving weekend. She is thankful to be home with her family, and for that unnamed off-duty officer shopping at Costco.
“He was there right in time,” she said, “and he saved everyone, and he saved my life. I’m thankful for him.”
(Photo: Screenshot Fox 4 News)