PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- Two people died and two sheriff's deputies were wounded Sunday after a shootout in a Walmart parking lot in Port Orchard.
A third Kitsap County deputy shot and killed the man who unexpectedly opened fire on the deputies, sheriff's spokesman Scott Wilson said. Witnesses say a woman apparently tried to run to the man's aid -- directly into the line of fire -- and was struck.
It's unclear whether the deputies or the gunman shot the woman, who was estimated to be in her late teens. She died at Tacoma General Hospital.
The wounded deputies, who have been with the agency for five to 10 years, were both shot in the torso and listed in stable condition.
Deputies were called about 3:40 p.m. to the Walmart after someone reported a suspicious man.
Two deputies approached the man, who was standing outside the store, smoking a cigarette when they arrived, and began talking to him.
Witnesses say he was walking with them to their patrol car and was about to be put in handcuffs when he broke free and began sprinting across the parking lot toward the woods.
"He flung out of their hands and pulled a gun out of his jacket," said 20-year-old Emmili Jones. "He was trying to run and shoot." She said the man didn't turn around when he fired several rounds, striking both deputies.
A third deputy coming around the south side of the building fired at the fleeing gunman after seeing her colleagues were down, Wilson said.
Sheriff's investigators did not know late Sunday why someone had called 911 to report the suspicious man or what was said between him and the deputies before the shooting began.
The Washington State Patrol will be taking over the investigation.
Investigators said they do not know the connection between the man and woman who were shot. Jones and her friend, Destany Droge, said the two appeared to be a couple.
"As soon as she saw him get shot, she ran for him," Droge said. "She put herself in the line of fire." The women had just gotten in their car with Jones' 2-month-old son when the confrontation unfolded.
As gunshots pierced the air, witnesses said dozens of people ran into the store seeking cover.
Walmart employees immediately placed the store on lockdown.
Tammy Stevens was shopping with her son when she noticed an employee frantically running up the aisle and yelling into a walkie-talkie.
Then she heard there was a gunman out front and said she felt "absolute terror." "We were all very shook up," Stevens said. "I got goose bumps and I still have them." Employees soon allowed customers to leave. Stevens was relieved to be released but first took the time to pay for her purchases.
Most employees were kept much longer so they could be interviewed by detectives.
Joseph Winney, who has worked at Walmart for eight years as an automobile service technician, left about 6:20 p.m. after first spending a half hour sitting in his car composing himself and assuring his wife he was fine and would be home soon.
"I've never been so shaken up in my life," he said, taking a drag on a cigarette. "Everybody's pretty shook. It's not something you encounter every day."
Yellow crime tape was draped around portions of the parking lot where investigators combed the area for evidence. The flash of their cameras periodically lit up the dark parking lot.
The last time a Kitsap County sheriff's deputy was shot in the line of duty was in April 1978. Deputy Dennis Allred stopped to help what he believed to be a stranded driver towing another vehicle. The vehicle turned out to be stolen, and Allred was shot and killed by the suspects.
Walmart reopened their doors shortly after 7:30 p.m.
(Staff writer Mike Archbold contributed to this report.)
(c) 2011, The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.).
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