FESTUS, Mo. — Festus, Missouri, police hope viral cell phone videos will help them track down a suspect after a gun beating in a Walmart parking lot.
The videos show a man beating a woman with a handgun around 7 p.m. Monday. It was still daylight and a very busy time at the store. Festus police shared two videos with sister station FOX 2 that had been captured by stunned and frightened shoppers.
“I’m hoping everybody sees (the video),” shopper Doris Dobbs said. “You should always be on guard when you come into a parking lot.”
At least one of the videos has been shared thousands of times on social media. Most initially thought it was a random robbery, but police said that was not the case. Still, it was a great cause for concern.
“Of course, it worries me,” said shopper Doug Inman. “We’re seeing a whole lot more of what I consider to be a lot of violence. It worries me that it’s everywhere now.”
Police are asking the public to be on the lookout for a gunman and a silver Lexus SUV. A video shows the suspect dropping a gun into the window of the SUV before driving away in it.
“There’s a parking lot full of families, individuals going there to shop,” said Festus Police Sgt. Jessica Griggaw. “It’s a very busy Walmart. So, it is very scary. We do encourage people to stay vigilant. Be aware of your surroundings. We had lots of people calling us right away. We got there right away.”
Griggaw said the beating victim and her daughter were still in the parking lot when officers arrived, but the gunman was gone.
According to investigators, the victim knew the gunman and agreed to meet him at the Walmart. The victim was in possession of illegal narcotics and pulled a handgun to protect herself, but the gunman stole it along with her daughter’s purse.
Terry Burgess, who’s running for state representative in a neighboring district was among those who shared one of the videos on social media to help police track down the gunman.
‘A lot of residents are tired of crime rising in the county, the vehicle break-ins, and the crazy stuff people saw in the video,” Burgess said. “We want to lower the crime rates. One slight, wrong move, somebody could have been seriously injured or killed.”
Investigators believe they know the gunman’s identity. They have yet to identify a woman who was with him. If you’ve seen him or the SUV, call Festus police at 636-937-3646.