'It looks like it was a robbery': Police release details of fatal Walmart shooting
EDMONTON -- Police say a fatal shooting at a Walmart in Red Deer on Friday was likely a robbery gone wrong.
They held an update on the incident for media on Monday morning.
RCMP initially reported that the fatal altercation had taken place outside the door of the Walmart, but they now say it happened about 200 feet away in the parking lot.
Jim Williams, 69, was returning to his vehicle with his wife when he got in an argument with a man before he was shot with a modified semi-automatic rifle. He later died in hospital.
“At this point it looks like it was a robbery, an intended robbery,” Insp. Mark Groves told reporters on Monday morning.
Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer called it "an unprecedented tragedy" in the community.
"The tragedy that occurred leaves our citizens with a very strong sense of unease, uncertainty and fear," she said.
"We're deeply shocked and it will take us some time to process this trauma."
Multiple shots fired
Police say the shooter got into a waiting vehicle and drove off. The shooter fired at two other people as they left the parking lot, and then continued to shoot randomly.
“Fortunately these bullets did not strike the intended victims.”
Hundreds of people were inside the Walmart when the shooting happened.
Shortly after the incident, Rimbey RCMP received a call about a stolen vehicle. Two vehicles were involved in the call and the second vehicle described in the theft matched the one that witnesses had reported at the Walmart parking lot.
Police deployed a spike belt to stop the two stolen vehicles.
Two charged in shooting
Chase Freed, 18, and Crystal Maurice, 30, both of Red Deer were arrested and charged in connection with the vehicle thefts and the shooting.
Freed, 18, has been charged with second-degree murder in Williams’ death. He is also facing two counts of attempted murder while using a firearm in connection with the shots fired at two people as the suspects were leaving the parking lot.
Freed has also been charged with failing to stop while being pursued by a police officer, dangerous operation and theft of a motor vehicle.
Maurice has been charged with accessory after the fact to murder, failing to stop while being pursued by a police officer and theft of a motor vehicle.
Police initially said that Williams had been targeted, but they now say that isn’t the case.
“It looked like the accused and the victim may have known each other because from bystanders saw them having a conversation which led to this altercation and ultimately led to this fatal shooting,” Groves said.
Groves also defended the police decision to announce on Friday that there was no danger to the public, despite the fact that Maurice and Freed were alleged to have been armed and to have stolen an SUV after the shooting in the parking lot.
He said police wanted to dispel misinformation on social media that there had been a mass shooting and that multiple people had been killed.
“We were trying to be careful not to put out false information. We were just doing the best we could to provide the best information we could at the time.”
RCMP have confirmed that Maurice is known to police. They also say Freed is new to the area, but is known to police in other jurisdictions.
Freed is scheduled to appear in court on Jan 6, 2020.
Maurice appeared in court on Monday, but the matter was put over.