An Ohio man holding a BB gun was fatally shot by police at a Walmart in Beavercreek on Tuesday, local media reports.
Investigators say that 22-year-old John Crawford was carrying a “variable pump air rifle,” identified as a Crosman MK-177 (.177 caliber) BB/Pellet Rifle, when officers confronted him in the store.
Witnesses said prior to the arrival of police, Crawford was brandishing the toy gun in the store.
Ronald Ritchie, a witness, told CBS affiliate WHIO that Crawford “was just waving [the gun] at children and people…I couldn’t hear anything that he was saying. I’m thinking that he is either going to rob the place or he’s there to shoot somebody.”
“He didn’t really want to be looked at and when people did look at him, he was pointing the gun at them. He was pointing at people. Children walking by,” said Ritchie, who was there with his wife, April.
The couple also noticed that Crawford was cradling a phone between his shoulder and his ear while he was handling the rifle.
When the police officers arrived on scene, the ordered Crawford to drop the air rifle, according to April Ritchie.
“I heard, ‘put it down, put it down,’ ” April Ritchie said. “I heard two shots after I saw him turn. He still had the weapon in his hand.”
Police then tackled and cuffed Crawford, who was apparently trying to get up. He was transported to a local hospital were the Montgomery County coroner’s office confirmed that he was dead as a result of the gunshot wounds.
Meanwhile, LeeCee Johnson, the mother of Crawford’s children told The Dayton Daily News that she was the one who he was talking to when he was shot by police.
“We was just talking. He said he was at the video games playing videos and he went over there by the toy section where the toy guns were. And the next thing I know, he said, ‘It’s not real,’ and the police start shooting and they said, ‘Get on the ground,’ but he was already on the ground because they had shot him,” she explained, adding: “And I could hear him just crying and screaming. I feel like they shot him down like he was not even human.”
Now, state and county investigators are looking into the matter to see if there was any criminal misconduct by the officers who shot Crawford.