A Costco subcontractor employee was shot to death and a sheriff's deputy injured Wednesday when authorities approached the woman who witnesses said began acting erratically with a knife at the store in Sterling, Va.
The employee, Mhai Scott, 38, was first hit with a Taser by a deputy and then shot, authorities said. Loudoun County Sheriff Michael Chapman said Scott advanced at deputies with the knife after being ordered to drop it. A deputy was shot in the leg possibly when a bullet ricocheted and hit his leg.
Chapman said an investigation is underway, including review of the in-store surveillance footage. Chapman would not confirm how many shots were fired.
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The gunfire sent scared Costco running for the exits.
Deputies were called to the store about 3 p.m. after store employees noticed Scott, who was handing out pizza samples, acting oddly and then began threatening them with a knife and scissors. Authorities said Scott worked for Club Demonstration Services, which provides services to Costco.
One officer tried to use a stun gun on Scott, but Chapman said the stun gun "did not work" and one of the deputies fatally shot her.
A witness interviewed at the scene said he was at the photo department counter when he saw deputies enter the store and ask the greeter for the location of the deli area. The witness then heard several shots fired — he said it sounded like a pallet falling on the ground — before fleeing the building with the other customers.
Robert Krause, an optometrist who works in the building, said he heard five gunshots. Customers in the store initially didn't know the sounds were gunshots, Krause said, and the noises sounded like something popping.
Shopper Elizabeth Avelar told WRC-TV she believes she had contact with Scott prior to the shooting.
"The woman was very nice, very polite," Avelar said.
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Avelar was later herded out of the store following the incident.
"I had no idea whether somebody was being shot, if there was a bomb threat," Avelar said. "It was very difficult to get out of the parking lot — people were honking their horns. It was frightening."
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