Reports from the Columbus Police Department released Thursday night name the officers who responded to the Wal-Mart incident on Victory Drive where one of them fired shots at an alleged shoplifter.
Aaron Hoffa and Richard Baran were identified as the officers who responded to the scene around noon Thursday to investigate a shoplifting in progress. They found the suspect in the store who was allegedly opening packages and placing the stolen property in his clothing.
Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren said the suspect, who was identified as Michael Reed, fled as officers chased him throughout Wal-Mart. He pointed a handgun at officers multiple times during the chase, according to the police chief.
They were in the garden center area in Wal-Mart when shots were fired.
“The officers made it as far as the inside area before you get to the outside garden center within Wal-Mart,” Boren said. “At which time, the guy centered in on the officer and pointed the weapon.”
Police said Hoffa shot twice at the suspect, who continued to head out of the store and into the Columbus Bank & Trust parking lot across the street on Benning Drive.
“There at the CB&T the suspect gave up, a weapon was recovered, some clothing was recovered and the individual had an injury to the left arm,” Boren said.
Authorities said it is unclear whether Reed was wounded by the bullet discharged from the officer’s weapon.
“We are not sure whether or not the injury to his left arm was caused from the projectile from the officer or if it was caused from him running into things inside the store while he was trying to make his getaway,” Boren said.
Police said the Reed was treated at Columbus Midtown Medical Center and released. He was arrested and charged with on one count each of obstruction of a law enforcement officer, theft by shoplifting, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and two counts of aggravated assault against a police officer.
Boren said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation will investigate if the officer caused Reed’s injury, which police described as a deep abrasion to the upper arm.
Hoffa, who discharged his weapon, was placed on administrative leave pending further investigation, according to the police chief.
“If in fact we caused the injury to the individual with a projectile, then the GBI will investigate,” Boren said. “If we did not and his injury was caused from running from the officers, then the Columbus Police Department will investigate. We’ll also do an Office of Professional Standards investigation that will be parallel to the criminal investigation.”
After the incident, police tape blocked off the entrance to the outdoor section of Wal-Mart to the public, but the main entrances remained open. Business in the other sections of Wal-Mart was open.