Walmart Airgun Death Looks Worse Every Passing Day

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 holding an airsoft rifle while on the phone in a Dayton, Ohio Walmart.

The more we hear about the shooting death of John Crawford III inside a Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart, the worse it sounds. Evidence continues to suggest that Crawford was effectively SWATted by an ex-Marine.

Crawford was then killed by Beavercreek police officers that may have been amped up over the Marine’s apparently embellished description of what was occurring, and who may not have given Crawford a reasonable amount of time to comply with instructions to drop the BB gun.

We’d mentioned in our previous post on the subject that it appeared to us that Crawford had been SWATted by a former Marine and his wife.

Ronald Ritchie made the 911 call to police that set events in motion, and even though his wife April was confined April and Ronald Ritchie, in an interview Wednesday night with News Center 7’s Jessica Heffner and Dayton Daily News Staff Writer Kelli Wynn, said they were in the hardware department when they saw a man leaving an aisle and walk past them with the rifle pointed toward the sky.

“He got on his cell phone right after he walked past me,” April Ritchie said. Ritchie was on her cell phone, talking with her mother. She had broken an ankle and was riding a scooter.

“Guy. Gun. Hold on,” April Ritchie recalled telling her mother.

They followed the man at a safe distance and Ronald Ritchie, a former Marine, called 911 at 8:21 p.m.

“Anytime I saw people walking his way, I would get their attention,” April Ritchie said, waving her hands for the reporters to demonstrate what she did. She said at one point, a family was standing next to the man with the rifle, but didn’t notice the rifle. The man turned to look at them with a stare she described as if he was telling them, “don’t come near me.”

He was holding a cellphone between his left ear and left shoulder while messing with the rifle, she said. “He just kept messing with it and I heard a clicking,” she said.

Ronald Ritche [sic] said the man “was just waving it at children and people. Items…. I couldn’t hear anything that he was saying. I’m thinking that he is either going to rob the place or he’s there to shoot somebody else.” The man looked kind of serious, Ronald Ritchie said. “He didn’t really want to be looked at and when people did look at him, he was pointing the gun at them. He was pointing at people. Children walking by.”

The behavior of the Ritchies as they described it was odd, to put it mildly. A man who seriously fears that he is in sight of an armed threat does not allow his injured wife to trail the “dangerous suspect” in a Walmart scooter, where she would be an easy target.

Perhaps even more telling are the 911 calls… or the lack of them, and what is said on the one call that has been partially released…Ritchie’s.

[continues on next page]

To date, authorities have released just one 911 call (partially released in three segments) from the store prior to the shooting. Unless that changes at a later date, it appears that only Ronald Ritchie called the police on John Crawford, who was walking through Walmart with a BB gun that Walmart sells. Nowhere on the 911 segments do you hear panic in Mr. Ritchie’s voice, nor do you hear any yelling or screaming as you might expect if a man was wandering the store with a real weapon, scaring people. The only yelling and screaming occurs after officers close with and engage John Crawford, who apparently tried to tell Beavercreek officers that the rifle “wasn’t real,” before he was shot.

The Ohio Attorney General’s office is saying that the investigation could take months.

The state investigation into the shooting death of a 22-year-old man killed by police at a Beavercreek Walmart could take months to complete and will include a review of eyewitness accounts, video and audio recordings and toxicology results.

Such a statement should raise an immediate red flag.

Legitimate criminals investigations should not “take months” if the goal of the investigations is to actually determine whether or not the use of force is justified in an incident that apparently involved two shot fired in an encounter that lasted less than ten seconds from first contact to shots fired.

Others have speculated—and I’m tempted to agree—that Mike Dewine’s office is attempting to let the furor over Crawford’s killing die down before Crawford’s family is offered a settlement to avoid criminal charges against the Beavercreek officers. Sadly,  I suspect that Ohio Attorney General already has enough evidence in hand to determine whether or not this incident was an unjustified shooting, and that the “good old boy” network may be in high gear.

30110-cm_2
The BB gun John Crawford was holding when he was killed.

Based on the limited evidence we currently have, I’d argue that perhaps both Ronald Ritchie and the Beavercreek officer(s) who fired bear responsibility for John Crawford’s untimely homicide. Whether or not Crawford’s death results in criminal charges for Ritchie and the officer(s) is something we will be watching very carefully.