EL PASO, Texas -- An El Paso Police officer shot and killed a suspected car thief in an east El Paso Walmart parking lot late Wednesday night.
It happened about 10:30 p.m. at the Walmart located at 12236 Montana Avenue. A spokesman for the El Paso Police Department said two officers approached a parked Ford Expedition, which matched the description of a stolen vehicle.
Police said the driver of the SUV became "irate and uncooperative" at their questions and then drove off to try and get away, striking the two officers and dragging them. One of those officers then shot and killed the man.
"The officers were thrown from the moving vehicle as it continued through the parking lot, ultimately crashing into the exterior wall of the store," said a police statement issued Thursday.
Officials on Thursday said they had not yet been able to determine who the dead man is; a police report listed him simply as "John Doe pending identification."
Both officers were taken to the hospital, where authorities said they were treated for non-life threatening injuries and released Thursday.
Witnesses reported hearing gunshots around the time of the incident late Wednesday in the parking lot, which police quickly blocked off to keep anyone from leaving the scene.
Shoppers and employees at the Walmart were safe and unharmed. They were kept inside the store as police investigated into the early morning hours. About 1:30 a.m. police began escorting them out of the building and to a nearby Lowe’s parking lot where family or friends could pick them up.
Police said those shoppers and employees would be able to pick up their vehicles in the Walmart parking lot after 5 p.m. Thursday. Crime scene tape was wrapped across a significant portion of the lot for hours after the shooting.
Some off-duty El Paso police officers have worked security at area Walmart stores following the Aug. 3 mass shooting at the Cielo Vista store. But in this case, police said Thursday that the two officers involved were on-duty and searching for stolen vehicles using a mobile license plate reader.
Authorities said the two officers are each 25-year veterans with EPPD's Auto Theft Task Force. Their names have not been released, but the pair have been placed on administrative leave -- which is standard practice in cases of officer-involved shootings.