Richland Washington shooting: Everything we know about suspected Fred Meyer gunman Aaron Kelly’s rampage

Witnesses recalled hearing around half a dozen shots before suspect fled

Gino Spocchia
Tuesday 08 February 2022 17:23 GMT
Fred Meyer shooting: Worker critical and one dead in Washington

Community leaders and police have described the shooting at a supermarket in southeast Washington state as “senseless and tragic” following the death of an Instacart shopper.

Suspected gunman Aaron Christopher Kelly, 39, was arrested early Tuesday about 130 miles away from the Fred Meyer store in Richland where he allegedly shot two people, killing one and wounding another, on Monday morning.

Terrified shoppers and employees took shelter and were escorted out of the store after the gunman fled the scene, sparking an hours-long manhunt.

The person killed was identified as 38-year-old Justin Krumbah, an Instacart shopper beloved by his customers. The other man wounded, an employee who has not been named, was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

An investigation is ongoing and the FBI are assisting. Here’s everything we know so far about what happened.

When and where did the shooting happen?

Police were called to a Fred Meyer supermarket after 11am on Monday following reports of a shooting at the hypermarket on Wellsian Way, in the south of Richland, Washington.

The store remains closed on Tuesday as an investigation is carried out.

Business owners of neighbouring buildings have meanwhile told news outlets about seeing people fleeing the store, with one man taking in a number of people who were sheltering while the situation was active.

The Richmond Police Department announced an end to the live shooting situation about an after their arrival at the store. Pictures were meanwhile released of a suspect walking out of the Fred Meyer with a shopping cart.

Richland is about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Seattle, and is part of the Tri-Cities area, which includes Kennewick and Pasco and has a combined population of more than 280,000.

What happened during the incident?

Details about what happened during the shooting remain few and far between, with no no apparent reason for why the suspect shot at shoppers and employees of Fred Meyer.

Prosecutors, who released police documents on Tuesday, revealed how Fred Meyer staffers believed Mr Kelly was a shoplifter and had photographed him the week before. His clothing and car matched the man suspected by staff.

Police said surveillance footage showed the shooter and his victim talking or interacting moments before a shot was fired, fatally. It is not known what the apparent conversation was about, nor if both men knew each other.

Documents describe the victim being shot several times around aisle 14 and customer services, before engaging in a conversation with a shopper and “wandering” briefly out of the store with an empty shopping cart.

When officers entered the store at about 11.04am, police found two victims in close proximity to one another in the store. Employees and customers were escorted out while they went aisle by aisle searching for the shooter or other victims.

Outside the scene of the shooting in Richland, Washington (Tri-City Herald)

Local businessman Robert Cronkite  told a local news station that his shop sheltered members of the public “for about 45 minutes” while the attack unfolded across the road at a Fred Meyer.

He also claimed that about a dozen people were treated for injuries after falling or fleeing the Fred Meyer, and that the victim was shot in the head and chest, although has not been confirmed by police.

He had already died when police attempted life saving measures, and was later identified as Mr Krumbah, who reports suggested was self-employed as a delivery worker for Instacart, the online shopping service.

He was well known to employees at the store – where his sister also works as a baker, according to her Facebook.

It was not known if Mr Krumbah was working on Monday while at the store and tributes have been paid on a GoFundMe set-up by a family friend, as well as on Facebook.

The second person who was shot remains in critical condition in hospital, police said. They have only been identified as a Fred Meyer employee.

Who is suspect Aaron Kelly?

An image of the shooter was shared across the Twi-Cities area on Monday night, and the Richland Police Department said they were “very confident that we will locate the suspect sooner than later,” thanks to about half a dozen agencies and the FBI assisting.

He was later identified as Mr Kelly, who was taken into custody “without incident” on an interstate highway about 150 miles north of Richland, Police said he had been driving a silver 2005 Honda Civic.

Mr Kelly was transported back to the Tri-Cities area and booked into the Benton County Jail on charges of first degree murder as well as attempted first degree murder.

In the wake of Mr Kelly’s arrest, his alleged former landlord claimed that he begged authorities to take away his tenant’s firearm after he tried to poison his dogs. Police and prosecutors confirmed the individual was in fact his roommate.

Bryant Scott wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post, seen by DailyMail.com, that Mr Kelly refused to leave the property he rented to him, was “repeatedly attempting to murder my dogs” and waged a campaign of harassment against him and his friends during the pandemic.

Mr Scott said he filed for a restraining order against the 39-year-old and asked a judge to confiscate his weapon - but that both requests were denied.

Court records, obtained by The Independent, show that Mr Scott filed a complaint for unlawful harassment against Mr Kelly in Franklin Franklin County Superior Court in October 2020. Records show that the order was denied.

Mr Scott was said to have seen a Richland Police Department image of the suspect shooter and believed it was Mr Kelly. He also confirmed the same car matching police descriptions.

How has the community reacted to news of the shooting?

Tributes have been left on Facebook to the victim, Mr Krumbah, who was described as a “breathe of fresh air” with a “positive, can do attitude” by his heartbroken customers – many of whom left tributes on his Facebook profile.

A GoFundMe for his family meanwhile said: “I didn’t get the opportunity to meet him, but I do know his sister Krista. She is amazing person and have heard nothing but good things about Justin! If you can please help, it would be appreciated!”

Fred Meyer said in a statement that “The entire Fred Meyer Family offers our thoughts, prayers, and support to all affected individuals and families during this difficult time, and we have initiated counselling services for our associates”.

Justin Krumbah has been remembered by customers as ‘breathe of fresh air’ after he was killed in Fred Meyer shooting (Facebook)

The Oregon-based supermarket chain is also working with police.

“Workers in our local grocery stores have experienced many safety concerns over the last two years under Covid,” added Eric Renner, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) labour union.

“This tragic shooting is another shock to all of us.”

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