A man who was carrying an air rifle in an Ohio Wal-Mart told the police officers that fatally shot him that the gun was “not real,” according to a family member.
John Crawford was shot by police Tuesday evening at a Beavercreek store. The Ohio attorney general’s office announced Thursday that he was merely carrying a brand of air rifle that Wal-Mart sells.
Another shopper, 37-year-old Angela Williams, collapsed and died as she scrambled to get away after police fired at Crawford.
The shooting occurred after police responded to 911 calls about a man carrying a rifle. In one of those calls, which was released by police, a Wal-Mart shopper told emergency dispatchers that it looked like the man — later identified as Crawford — was trying to load the rifle and that he had pointed it at two children, WHIO reported.
The 911 caller’s wife said that Crawford was on the phone and that he was messing with the gun. She said that after police ordered Crawford to put down the unidentified weapon, “I heard two shots after I saw him turn. He still had the weapon in his hand.”
But Crawford’s family says that there is no way he intended to harm anyone that night.
LeeCee Johnson, who has two children with Crawford and is pregnant with a third, said that she was on the phone with him while the incident unfolded.
She told the Dayton Daily News that Crawford told officers that the gun he was carrying was “not real.”
“We was just talking,” said Johnson. “He said he was at the video games playing videos and he went over there by the toy section where the toy guns were.”
“And the next thing I know, he said ‘It’s not real,’ and the police start shooting and they said ‘Get on the ground,’ but he was already on the ground because they had shot him.”
Johnson, who had not yet told Crawford that she was pregnant with their third child, said that she could hear him crying and screaming.
Beavercreek police chief Dennis Evers stood by his officers’ actions, saying that they fired after Crawford failed to comply with their commands to drop the air rifle. He asked Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation to open an investigation into the shooting.
In a statement Thursday, DeWine provided the latest details.
“BCI Investigators on the case report witnesses say the man was carrying a weapon Tuesday night inside a Beavercreek store,” reads DeWine’s statement.
“The weapon was an MK-177 (.177 caliber) BB/Pellet Rifle, manufactured by Crosman. It is known as a ‘variable pump air rifle.'”
Reached by The Daily Caller, a spokeswoman for DeWine said she could not yet comment on whether the air rifle was from the Wal-Mart or if Crawford had brought it in himself.
But an Internet search of Wal-Mart’s website shows that it does indeed sell Crosman MK-177 air rifles. The price is listed at $100.83.
“He does not own (a rifle-like weapon),” Lamon Brown, Crawford’s cousin, told the Dayton Daily News before DeWine’s office announced the brand of rifle Crawford was carrying. “We think it was a toy.”
The family has contacted the NAACP as well as the National Action Network. Crawford, 22, was black.
The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.