John Crawford III was shot and killed while holding an airsoft rifle while on the phone in a Dayton, Ohio Walmart.
John Crawford III was shot and killed while talking on his cell phone and holding a BB gun in a Dayton, Ohio Walmart.

Bearing Arms was the first to note that there was something wrong with the stories of April and Ronnie Ritchie, two white shoppers in a Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart who were trailing black shopper John Crawford III through the store as he carried a BB gun sold by the retail giant.

Ronnie Ritchie called 911 and claimed that Crawford was walking around the store pointing a rifle at other shoppers. The police response was immediate and overwhelming, and Crawford was shot and killed within seconds when Beavercreek officers arrived at the scene.

Ritchie is now changing his story:

When Ronald Ritchie called 911 from the aisles of a Walmart in western Ohio last month to report that a black man was “walking around with a gun in the store”, he said that shoppers were coming under direct threat.

“He’s, like, pointing it at people,” Ritchie told the dispatcher. Later that evening, after John Crawford III had been shot dead by one of the police officers who hurried to the scene in Beavercreek, Ritchie repeated to reporters: “He was pointing at people. Children walking by.”

One month later, Ritchie puts it differently. “At no point did he shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody,” the 24-year-old said, in an interview with the Guardian. He maintained that Crawford was “waving it around”, which attorneys for Crawford’s family deny.

Ritchie told several reporters after the 5 August shooting that he was an “ex-marine”. When confronted with his seven-week service record, however, he confirmed that he had been quickly thrown out of the US marine corps in 2008 after being declared a “fraudulent enlistment”, over what he maintains was simply a mixup over his paperwork.

Crawford, 22, turned out to be holding an unloaded BB air rifle that he had picked up from a store shelf. After Ritchie said Crawford appeared to be “trying to load” the gun, the 911 dispatcher relayed to an officer that it was believed the gunman “just put some bullets inside”.

The Crawfords’ attorneys told the Guardian that they had learned the preliminary findings of an autopsy were that he was shot in the back of his left arm and in his left side, supporting their claim that he was turned away from the police officer who shot him.

They have pleaded with Mike DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general, to release the store’s surveillance footage of the shooting to the public. Having viewed it, they say that it disproves Ritchie’s version of what led to the deaths of both Crawford and a 37-year-old woman who collapsed and died in the ensuing panic.

This has sounded from the very beginning like a couple purposefully stirring up trouble because they could, not because they were in any actual fear of an active shooter situation about to break out.

Ronnie Ritchie was lying to dispatchers where he reported that he thought Crawford was loading bullets into the BB gun, as the magazine was fake.

Ronnie Ritchie lied about his military service.

Ronnie Ritchie now admits that he lied when he said Crawford was pointing the BB gun at other shoppers.

In our estimation, this sounds as if the Ritchies intentionally SWATted John Crawford.

If the evidence continues to bear this out—and it seems more likely every day—then Ritchie should be brought up on two homicide charges for his 911 call. Crawford died in a hail of police bullets, and a female shopper fleeing the police gunfire had a heart attack and died.

Two Beavercreek officers fired at Crawford from behind and the side almost as soon as they saw him.

It remains to be seen if the officers will be brought up on criminal charges.

Crawford was the father of two young children, and died not knowing that he has a third child was on the way.