KELSO, Wash. — The man shot and killed by a police officer Wednesday in Kelso has been identified as a 27-year-old homeless man who has connections to Spokane.
A Kelso police officer fatally shot Omer Ismail Ali after Ali allegedly attacked a gas station clerk, customer and the officer with a walking stick, the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. Ali died of a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the results of an autopsy performed Friday.
Ali, who immigrated to the U.S. from Sudan as a refugee in 2013, also suffered a “gunshot wound of the jaw and neck,” deputies said.
Ali tried to shoplift from a Flying K gas station food mart in West Kelso shortly after 8 a.m., deputies said. They said the store’s clerks told him to leave, and he threatened them and walked away. The Kelso officer, John Johnston, arrived shortly thereafter to take a report.
As Johnston and one of the clerks were reviewing surveillance footage in an office, Ali returned to the store and began hitting a clerk and a customer with the stick, authorities said.
Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson said in a news conference Wednesday that Johnston tried to intervene but was struck in the head. Johnston was also injured in the arm and leg, police said. Johnston then shot Ali.
Johnston is a 22-year member of the Kelso Police Department, deputies said. Johnston, the clerk and the customer were taken to a hospital, and each of them were treated and released.
The encounter was Ali’s second at the Flying K that morning, deputies said. They said he showed up at the store around 1:10 a.m., toting a flat board, and was told to leave by police and employees. Police took the board.
Police also contacted him twice between the Flying K altercations, deputies said. They said officers had contacted Ali or received reports about him multiple times since Saturday.
Ali was arrested Saturday in Cougar, Washington, for allegedly driving with a suspended license, deputies said. They said the car, a rental, had been stolen in Washington’s Whatcom County.
Deputies said he had a pair of non-extraditable, misdemeanor warrants out of Spokane and Blaine, Washington.
Ali was released Monday from the Cowlitz County Jail, deputies said.
The sheriff’s office is still investigating Wednesday’s case.