ONTD Political

Walmart security guard shoots 'shoplifting' mother

6:51 pm - 12/08/2012
Walmart security guard shoots 'shoplifting' mother dead in parking lot as she tries to escape with two young children

- Shelly Frey was shot dead attempting to drive away from off-duty sheriff deputy Louis Campbell who suspected her of shoplifting
- He fired when Frey and her two alleged accomplices accelerated when he opened the car door
- There were two small children in the car at the time of the shooting

By James Nye

PUBLISHED: 11:09 EST, 8 December 2012

A 27-year-old mother of two has been fatally shot by an off-duty sheriff's deputy after he suspected her of shoplifting at a Houston Walmart.

Harris County Sheriff's deputies have said that victim Shelly Frey, Tisa Andrews and Yolanda Craig were stealing when they were confronted by Louis Campbell a 26-year veteran of the force who works as a security guard at the store.

According to Campbell the women ran to their car and when he rushed to open the door, they accelerated away - at which point he fired the deadly shot into the car which hit Frey in the neck.

Security at the store on the 14000 block of the North Freeway had noticed the three women 'stuffing items inside their purses' and notified Campbell, who was working an extra job that evening.

Investigators with Harris County said the three women even attempted to pay for some small items to act as a cover for the shoplifted ones.

After chasing Frey and the other two women to their car, Campbell opened the door and commanded them to stop, but the car was placed in drive and moved forward.

Harris County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Deputy Thomas Gilliland said, 'He confronted the suspects at exit of the store before they left. One female wouldn't stop, struck the deputy with her purse, ran off.'

'I think it knocked him off balance and, in fear of his life (op note: really?) and being ran over, he discharged his weapon at that point.'

Inside the car as it was speeding away were two small children - investigators have said that they were not Frey's children.

Gilliland said it was clear that the deputy was law enforcement.

'He was clearly marked in uniform as a Harris County deputy. And identified himself as the suspects were leaving the establishment,' said Gilliland to KHOU.Com

Despite the shooting, the women fled but eventually they stopped at The Worthington at the Beltway apartments in the 1300 block of Greens Parkway.

Paramedics from the Houston Fire Department arrived to try and save Frey, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

'Shelly was the perfect mom, perfect friend, perfect daughter,' said her father, Shelton Frey.

He said that his daughter had moved to Houston after Hurricane Katrina to start a new life, but the amount of work she could do was limited by her two-year-old who has sickle cell anemia.

'Why couldn’t you just shoot the tire, shoot the window?' said her mother Sharon Wilkerson. 'Was it that serious?'

She added that even if her daughter had committed a crime, she did not deserve to die and she worries now for her two young grandchildren.

'How do I tell these children she's not coming back,' said Sharon.

'To me, it should never (have) happened. I wish the officer didn’t shoot her. I wish he shot her tires just to slow her down. That’s a mother you know. And now they have to figure out what to do with the kids,' said Angel Gaines, a neighbor.

Kesha Sapp, a woman who knew Frey, agreed.

'What that look like with him shooting with the darn kids in the car? There were kids in the car with them. Why is he shooting at the car? Come on now, that makes him look bad. That don’t even look right,' said Sapp.

Both Andrews and Craig, the two other women allegedly involved, have been charged with shoplifting.

Tragically, Frey wasn't even supposed to be at a Walmart that evening.

Earlier in the year she pleaded guilty to stealing shirts and a package of meat from another Walmart and as part of her plea arrangement she agreed to never enter Walmart stores again.

Deputy Campbell is on three days paid leave as is standard protocol. He's been with the Harris County Sheriff's Office for 26 years.

The Harris County Sheriff's Homicide Unit, Office of the Inspector General and the Harris County District Attorney's Office will investigate this incident. The case will be turned over to a grand jury.

Walmart offered the following statement: 'This is a tragic situation and we recognize this is a difficult time for all parties involved. We're committed to working with law enforcement and providing any information we have as they determine the facts of the case. Because this is an active investigation, any specific details of the incident should come from law enforcement.

'We hire off duty officers to provide security to some of our stores. While we have policies in place for our associates to disengage from situations that might put them or others in harm's way, off-duty officers working at a WM store are authorized to act in accordance with their department's code of conduct.'

Source (avoid the comments for the love of anything holy, the usual bile is all you will find)
Consumerist.com article (SRC 2), which depicts details slightly differently, courtesy of bestdaywelived, as well as KHOU.com (SRC3), Houston's local news center, where the story originally broke and skews things in yet another light.

OP: I can't believe Wal-mart's departmental code of conduct means shoot to kill when you see a shoplifter. Wtf, what kind of an officer fires into a moving vehicle? Fall back and take the plate numbers, Officer Doofus. This poor woman and her kids :(
edited to add more sources

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danger0usbeans 9th-Dec-2012 09:37 pm (UTC)
IDEK what the hell is going on in this country that anyone would think it's okay to shoot and kill a person over petty theft, much less alleged, unproven petty theft. And really, off-duty sheriff's deputy or not, what that fuck is Wal-mart security doing walking around the store armed? Store security guards do not need guns!
sio 9th-Dec-2012 09:54 pm (UTC)
sadly, while they may be working as store security, they are still police officers and no doubt allowed to be packing while on duty at the stores.
shishmish 9th-Dec-2012 09:37 pm (UTC)
Fucking what?!

There's these things on a vehicle called tyres, you shoot one or two and it'll fucking stop. But then why would you shoot at a woman shoplifting? Yes it's a crime but it's not the worst one out there, just let them drive off instead of KILLING HER even if she's been done for it before. Loosing some food items isn't as bad as having someone murdered in your car-park.

Jesus H Christ, now you've got some traumatised kids who have lost a mother. Well fucking done.
squeeful 9th-Dec-2012 10:03 pm (UTC)
I know what you're getting at, but, no shooting out a tire does not make a vehicle stop. In spite of what tv/film shows, there is no explosive deflation, no careening out of control, no sudden stop. You can drive for miles on a flat tire and that's all that a bullet hole or caltrops will give you: a flat. A slow flat even.
365reasonswhy 9th-Dec-2012 09:44 pm (UTC)
Disgusting. Even if she was shoplifting how is opening fire on her in any way a reasonable reaction? Fuck that guy and fuck Wal-Mart.
365reasonswhy 10th-Dec-2012 12:23 am (UTC)
Also, what about the risk of hitting innocent bystanders? I don't know about this particular Wal-Mart, but at every Wal-Mart I've ever been to, the parking los is always a busy place.
not_emily 9th-Dec-2012 09:52 pm (UTC)
fuck this guy. on what planet is getting hit with a purse a threat to your life? was there some sort of deadly can of green beans in it or something?
sio 9th-Dec-2012 09:52 pm (UTC)
i think that "department's code of conduct" is being misread by you, OP.

to me, it reads like the Walmart statement is saying: while they are working at that Walmart, they can do what they want within the boundaries of the police-department-they-work-for's code of conduct. (in this case, it would be the code of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.)

so i call this flat out police brutality and the location is coincidental, IMO.
leaf_collector 9th-Dec-2012 10:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, I was being a little sarcastic.
But I get the distinct impression from the Walmart statement they're trying to stay neutral as possible (because no retail environment wants an employee to confront a shoplifter for this very reason) and is shifting responsibility more over to the police officer. So, while ia with the coincidental location, Walmart should take some responsibility if they're employing off-duty officers... Certainly that the officer had a weapon not sanctioned by the store factors, but it's just a crummy statement imo.
tabaqui 9th-Dec-2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
Half the shoplifting stories at customers_suck says they can't grab, tackle or even *stop* suspected (and known) shoplifters - when in hell did it become okay to shoot a gun at a car full of people that might have shoved some crap into their purses?

For fuck's sake. 'In fear of his life', my ass. When people are *trying to get away from you*, you're not in danger.
sio 9th-Dec-2012 10:03 pm (UTC)
yup--that's why i'm calling out flat out police brutality.

i used to work for them. if a shoplifter got past the doors, you had to let them go because they didn't want you getting injured if the shoplifter had a weapon on them. one LP guy i know got terminated for defending himself from a shoplifter that tried to punch his lights out (he managed to duck the punch and slammed the guy to the floor).
aubade_saudade 9th-Dec-2012 10:07 pm (UTC)
a few months ago i had someone get rly internet!mad at me when i told them punching a woman was an overreaction to them stealing an iphone

apparently private property trumps all
k0liverbby 9th-Dec-2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
it is, but at the same time that person put themselves in that situation by stealing. both are really victims at that point.

it's similar to how most states have a law, that if during you committing a misdemeanor crime, a felony or murder occurs in result of the crime you were committing..then YOU are responsible for that felony.

johnjie 9th-Dec-2012 10:11 pm (UTC)
Oh my god. Oh my fucking GOD.

Who kills someone over an incident of petty theft? Who DOES that? Why didn't this guy just, oh, I dunno, make a note of the number plate? I am so dumbfounded right now.
k0liverbby 9th-Dec-2012 10:24 pm (UTC)
So he shot because she was about to run him over? At that point i think you really have to think, and he had a huge lapse in judgement. You move out the way at that point, you don't shoot. But maybe he was just in shock? I'd like to hear what he has to say...they put themselves in that situation for it to happen. I feel it's tragic, but I feel all the blame can't be put on the deputy
aubade_saudade 9th-Dec-2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
"accelerated away" doesn't mean running him over

where does it say she was trying to run him over?
poetic_pixie_13 9th-Dec-2012 10:40 pm (UTC)
He said that his daughter had moved to Houston after Hurricane Katrina to start a new life, but the amount of work she could do was limited by her two-year-old who has sickle cell anemia.

Earlier in the year she pleaded guilty to stealing shirts and a package of meat from another Walmart

So, this is a woman, a mother of two, who had to move after Katrina and couldn't get work (especially in this economy) because her daughter is sick. So she shoplifts to literally feed and clothe her family. And gets punished for it by not being able to go into one of the few places that has the ridiculously low prices (cause of even more exploitation of the poor, yay) that might allow her to take care of her family.

And now she's dead because she obviously had no other choice again (if she was even shoplifting in the first place). I know this (disgusting piece of shit) cop didn't know that but still, fucking fuck. And pulling out a gun in this situation breaks like, fifty different laws and protocols and since when does store security fucking carry around guns in the first place.

Fuck capitalism and fuck this idea that property is the fucking be all and end all. My heart goes out to Shelly Frey's family, especially her two babies, I can't imagine.

Edited at 2012-12-09 10:41 pm (UTC)
leaf_collector 9th-Dec-2012 10:55 pm (UTC)
Fuck capitalism and fuck this idea that property is the fucking be all and end all. My heart goes out to Shelly Frey's family, especially her two babies, I can't imagine.

ia :( someone on my FB made a joke about "what's more important, free stuff or your life?" and I was like, you're completely missing the point, when does stealing equate to death? It should never, it's only because of the need for goods and the officer's overreaction to halting what he perceived to be a 'robbery' (i.e. a violent shoplifting? idk) of those goods.... it's all capitalism imo. :(((

but the article is really vague and I really feel like there is so much more to this story.
sarien 9th-Dec-2012 10:54 pm (UTC)
This is the Walmart I go to. Not in the best neighborhood (are any, really?) and I am entirely not surprised. It's a tragedy (over petty items!). I wonder how Walmart will respond in the future and how/if they can be held liable for wrongful death or something. Those poor kids -- they're going to have to live with that memory forever.
pandaeatworld 10th-Dec-2012 12:56 pm (UTC)
That and her children as well... It just seems so senseless... Given the time of year and the fact that by the sounds of things she was stealing just to get by (okay, stealing is never okay but there are degrees of how bad it is..) I just... I don't see how any of this could ever be okay... It makes me so angry because this is the exact kind of situation where I'd have just given the lady some money to try and help her out, why can't people react more like that instead of with violence? :(
otana 9th-Dec-2012 11:19 pm (UTC)
These kinds of stores have insurance to cover loss, what the fuck made the officer think he had the right to shoot a woman to death in front of her children over what, at most a couple hundred bucks? At MOST? Walmart's covered, dickbag. They aren't going to give a fuck if that shit got stolen, but now there are kids with no mother.
lantean_breeze 9th-Dec-2012 11:30 pm (UTC)
Yeah, exactly. At the very worst, the store could have taken the loss, and it's not like he didn't have an entire police department and news networks to help search for them even if they did get away. Security cam footage from the parking lot and from inside of the store would show what the women and the car looked like.
mollybarton 9th-Dec-2012 11:32 pm (UTC)
I read the comments and regretted it. The hate towards the dead woman is sickening. She was not trying to kill the cop, for fuck's sake. Fuck that cop, and fuck every piece of shit applauding the death of the mother.
moonshaz 10th-Dec-2012 09:47 pm (UTC)
bestdaywelived 10th-Dec-2012 12:04 am (UTC)
I read another article and it was edited differently. He followed her to the car, and SHE pulled away, dragging him. That's why he feared for his life and shot her.

That article was on Consumerist.
leaf_collector 10th-Dec-2012 12:32 am (UTC)
Added the Consumerist article (+another), as well as credit to you for bringing attention for the article into the post.
zinnia_rose 10th-Dec-2012 12:09 am (UTC)
Since when is shooting someone an appropriate response to suspected shoplifting?? Calling the police with the license plate number, yes. KILLING the person? Nooooooope.
imnotasquirrel 10th-Dec-2012 12:12 am (UTC)
if he happened to be that close to the car, why didn't he just take down the license plate #?
eyetosky 10th-Dec-2012 07:43 pm (UTC)
Exactly! Jesus. He got right up in her face, a description of the driver AND a plate number would have been entirely sufficient for a shoplifter.
purepulp 10th-Dec-2012 12:24 am (UTC)
Once they were out the door and heading to their car, he should have let them go. They weren't brandishing any weapons out in the open and stores have insurance. He could have just let them roll and taken down a license number. It seems as if he had it in his head that he was going to get these women, sorta like he had tunnel vision and wasn't thinking about anything else.

idk, here none of the security guards in stores have guns. The only security that does are those in charge of loading money into atms. A lot of banks don't even have security guards. I get he was an off duty cop, but the idea of just pulling out a gun as a first resort instead of just booking it out of the way seems ridiculous. Like he was thinking, "fuck this, I've got a gun." Instead of "fuck this, I have to move."
phantomess05 10th-Dec-2012 02:04 am (UTC)
"Once they were out the door and heading to their car, he should have let them go."

THIS. Protocol at the store where I work is to acknowledge when our security alarm goes off and call the customer back in to check their receipt and their bag, but if the customer keeps moving we have to stay back and take down their license plate number to report to the police. It's far too dangerous to chase down shoplifters, it's much better to do what you can safely and involve the police in an official investigation.
otana 10th-Dec-2012 12:46 am (UTC)
From an article about another case of a death at Walmart after alleged shoplifting:

“No amount of merchandise is worth someone’s life,” a Walmart spokesperson said Sunday. “Associates are trained to disengage from situations that would put themselves or others at risk.”

The security guard should have backed the hell off the moment she left the store.
kaelstra 10th-Dec-2012 01:57 am (UTC)
Should have. Though it's worth noting the Security guards are not Wal-mart Associates and potentially have different training? IDK. Shooting is not a fucking solution to theft, no matter what.
the_gabih 10th-Dec-2012 01:08 am (UTC)
myrrhmade 10th-Dec-2012 01:23 am (UTC)
This is murder, how the fuck can it be anything else.
mirhanda 13th-Dec-2012 02:10 am (UTC)
Because a cop did it. When a cop shoots someone, even if it's in the back and the person is unarmed and running away, it's automatically ok. They're above such petty things as LAWS don't you know.
iolarah this is all that comes to mind for me.10th-Dec-2012 02:00 am (UTC)
"So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation which, in the midst of civilization, artificially creates a hell on earth, and complicates with human fatality a destiny that is divine; so long as the three problems of the century - the degradation of man by the exploitation of his labor, the ruin of women by starvation, and the atrophy of childhood by physical and spiritual night - are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a still broader point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, there should be a need for books such as this." -Victor Hugo
leaf_collector Re: this is all that comes to mind for me.10th-Dec-2012 02:03 am (UTC)
this amazing namedrop rn <3
spyral_path 10th-Dec-2012 02:58 am (UTC)
Another term for store security is loss prevention, as in it is the security team's responsibility to prevent loss. Walmart stands to lose much, much more in wrongful death lawsuits than the dollar amount of anything three women could fit in their purses. Take the plate number, call it in, and follow them more closely if they ever come back. I've worked retail for over 20 years. I've seen a lot of security guards, some of whom were off duty police officers, take on a lot of shop lifters. I've even confronted a few myself. All without firing a single shot. It's just not necessary.

I feel really bad for those kids. I hope their parents get settlement money to put towards trauma counseling.

This is the second time in less than a month that walmart employees have killed a suspected shoplifter. I can't even.
a_phoenixdragon 10th-Dec-2012 03:54 am (UTC)
He could have accidentally killed another shopper. This could have gone way more wrong in a lot of ways. But either way, as 'security' (isn't moonlighting illegal?!) he SHOT AND KILLED A MOTHER WITH TWO KIDS IN THE CAR AND TWO OTHER PEOPLE INSIDE. He should have done a LOT of things. Drawing down a weapon on shoplifters isn't one. She would have gone to jail, yes. But now she's dead and there is no one to care for the kids she was obviously shoplifting for. This is fucking disgusting. Watch them kick it under the carpet and blame the victim. This was reckless endangerment, firing on an unarmed civilian, and murder, flat and simple. Fuck this guy. Afraid for his life after being swatted with a purse? fucking GET REAL. Whatever...

*Head explodes*
spyral_path 10th-Dec-2012 04:13 am (UTC)
If moonlighting was illegal a lot of people would be in jail. Sometimes you need two jobs to pay the bills. Lots of cops work security when they're off duty.
effervescent 10th-Dec-2012 05:23 am (UTC)
I fucking hate guns. Do I think that it was shitty of the mother to try and drive away at that point, if the part about her dragging him is true? Yeah. But the use of a gun is absolutely what turned this into the tragedy that it now is.

Those poor kids. :(
onyx_obsidian 10th-Dec-2012 08:02 am (UTC)
I'm pretty shocked. I thought it was standard police protocol that if there are children anywhere near, you do not draw a weapon unless you are in dire circumstances. That bullet could also easily have ricocheted inside the car if he had missed her and killed one of those children. Totally inappropriate reaction in any case, but the presence of children elevates it even more in that I think he must have violated police protocol. Maybe that's just here in Canada, though. I don't know. :(
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