KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Homicide investigators say a suspected shoplifter who was dead when KCKPD officers arrived at an O’Reilly Auto Parts store Tuesday night wasn’t shot, but died following a “physical altercation” with employees outside the store.
KCKPD says all employees who were involved in the altercation are in police custody, and a second suspected shoplifter is recovering from injuries at a hospital.
Officers were called to the store at N. 47th Street and Parallel Parkway just before 6:30 p.m.
KCK police said two men in the 20’s walked into O’Reilly Auto Parts and stole something.
“It was some type of car maintenance type fluid,” Chief Karl Oakman said.
Oakman said the manager told the alleged thieves to stop and they didn’t.
Once outside, the manager confronted one of the men and got into a fight, which Oakman said led to the manager to allegedly killing one of the shoplifters.
Officers attempted CPR on the man found unresponsive, and emergency workers took the second man to a hospital with minor injuries.
Oakman said there was no weapon involved, just hand-to-hand fighting.
“At this point, what we do know, based on the evidence that we have right now, that there may have been some issue with the manager choking the shoplifter,” Oakman said.
Oakman said that manager is behind bars, arrested for voluntary manslaughter.
Logan Dewitt and his family have lived in the neighborhood across from O’Reilly for five years. He said his family hears sirens often and said robbers have hit this O’Reilly store several times.
“I really would not like to look at a dead body again,” Dewitt said. “That’s something that you would expect from a third world country, opening up your door and seeing dead bodies, or a war zone, and I don’t think Kansas City is either.”
“It’s really sad to hear an individual lost his life, because nothing at an O’Reilly store is worth losing your life for,” Dewitt said, “but I can definitely understand the frustration of somebody just trying to do their job and a store gets robbed multiple times.”
Neither man has been identified, nor have the employees who were taken into custody.
The company said in a statement to FOX4: “O’Reilly Auto Parts is deeply disturbed by the events, death and injuries that occurred at our store in Kansas City, Kansas. We are cooperating fully with the police investigation.”
Oakman said their force is frustrated by theft in general, but he wants people to call police and they don’t want people to take the law into their own hands.
“On simple matters like shoplifting, tell the individual to stop, they don’t stop,” Oakman said. “Call police, don’t get in the middle of it. because when you get in the middle of situations, we take minor shoplifting and turn it into an individual who is now dead.”
Neighbors said, last night dozens of onlookers went to the store after hearing about what happened.
Oakman said crowding a volatile situation can be a dangerous problem.
“You’re putting your life in danger just so you can get a recording on your phone, which is not worth it,” Oakman said. “Leave the area, get out of the situation. “
He said it’s becoming a common occurrence across the city and encourages people to stay away.