LENEXA, Kan. -- The off-duty KCK police officer who shot and killed a man waving a gun around a Lenexa Costco in late November will not face charges, according to a statement Wednesday from the Johnson County District Attorney's Office.
A man brandishing a black powder pistol walked into the Costco at 9350 Marshall Drive around 11 a.m. on Sunday, November 26. Shoppers and employees said the man was yelling and waving the gun around.
“Some guy in camouflage came in with a revolver and just started yelling and waving his gun at everybody,” said Dennise Meyer, who works at the store. “He said, ‘Don’t shut me in!’ or something like that.”
Employees worked to evacuate the store, but Capt. Michael Howell did not evacuate. A 22-year veteran of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department, Howell spoke with management about getting everyone outside and made sure someone called 911, according to the DA office's statement.
“There was a cop in there shopping, so he wasn’t in uniform. When he found out what was going on he pulled out his gun and his badge and held it up to let everyone know he was a cop,” said Meyer.
Howell approached a man later identified as 58-year-old Ronald Hunt who was heading toward the back of the store and threatening to kill people. According to Wednesday's statement, Howell had his gun drawn and told Hunt to drop his pistol.
Shortly after, people who had evacuated the store heard gunshots coming from inside.
The district attorney's office reviewed the reports from the Johnson County Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team. The DA's office concluded the off-duty officer acted in accordance with Kansas law as it pertains to self-defense or defense of another.
The DA's office wrote in the statement:
"It is our belief that this officer acted with extreme courage and saved an unknown amount of innocent lives by his actions inside the Costco warehouse on November 26."
Hundreds of people evacuated the store, many of which found refuge in a nearby home. Stacy Michaels, a nurse and mother of three, welcomed around 150 people into her home and front yard as they ran from the store. Many of them used her phone to call family members, some arranging rides since their cars were trapped for hours behind crime scene tape in the Costco parking lot.
Michaels's kids Molly and Max also jumped in to help, offering food and drinks to stranded shoppers.