An armed shoplifter and a security officer exchanged gunfire on Black Friday in the parking lot of the Kennewick Walmart, sending fearful shoppers and employees running for safety.
Robbery suspect Alexander Richard Yell, 31, was the only one wounded after reportedly being shot two to three times at close range, according to initial broadcast reports.
Yell, who has a long history of troubles with police, was apparently bleeding from his arm and leg when he drove away, showing up a few minutes later at his ex-girlfriend’s home in Kennewick.
He was arrested soon after at her apartment and taken to the hospital before being booked at 8:25 p.m. in to the Benton County jail in Kennewick.
Yell is being held on investigation of first-degree robbery, second-degree assault, illegal gun possession, second-degree burglary and 11 warrants for failing to comply with court orders in other cases, show Benton County jail records.
About seven hours earlier at 12:45 p.m., Yell was suspected of stealing some merchandise from the 2720 S. Quillan St. store, said Kennewick police.
The security guard, known as a loss prevention officer, followed Yell into the south portion of the store’s crowded parking lot and Yell pulled out a gun, according to Kennewick police reports.
Police Lt. Jason Kiel said investigators later determined that Yell fired at least one round toward the security guard.
The guard, who had a concealed gun carry permit, told police he pulled out his own gun and shot Yell two to three times at close range, according to dispatch broadcasts.
But Yell still managed to drive away.
Shoppers and employees began running from the store when the shots rang out, with some shoppers calling 911 to report an active shooter inside the busy store just off Highway 395 near the Canyon Lakes neighborhood.
When police arrived they determined there was no gunman inside, but a team of officers moved methodically through the store evacuating everyone to make sure there were no victims or other suspects inside.
The Walmart security guard, whose name was not released, was not injured.
About 30 minutes after the shooting, a woman called 911 to say her ex-boyfriend had shown up at her apartment with gunshot wounds and was bleeding from his arm and leg.
Two children were with her in the apartment, and he was upset that she’d called 911, she told the dispatcher.
Officers negotiated with Yell for a few minutes before he came out of the apartment and was arrested about 1:30 p.m. on the 1700 block of West 5th Avenue in Kennewick.
He was taken by ambulance to a Tri-Cities hospital and then, later, to jail.
Kennewick detectives obtained a search warrant and searched the apartment, finding the gun used in the robbery, said Kiel.
He said they also discovered evidence of a break-in on Thanksgiving Day at a business on the 8300 block of West Gage Boulevard in Kennewick.
The Washington State Patrol and deputies from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the shooting.