Walmart Shooter Apprehended by Heroic Off Duty Officer
East Chicago police detective Bill Johnsen was shopping with his family at the Walmart at 2936 E. 79th Ave. around 4 p.m. Sunday.
“Thanks to his quick thinking and heroic actions the suspect involved in this senseless shooting was taken into custody without further incident,” East Chicago police said in a statement.“Beyond the call of duty” East Chicago, Indiana Police described the actions of one of his officers who was with his own wife and kids, but ran toward a shooting inside a Walmart.
“It was just a lazy Sunday to be honest,” Bill Johnsen said. “We were going to go buy some fishing stuff for my boys.”
But Bill Johnsen is an East Chicago police detective, and when one man shot another in the Walmart on Sunday, he stepped into action.
“I hear a gunshot; stop for a second, see if I hear any other ones,” Johnsen said.
There was then a strange noise from a neighboring aisle.
“It took 20 seconds before you hear people start screaming, and then they start stampeding towards the exit,” Johnsen said.
Johnsen pushed his wife and sons out the door, then turned around to go back in.
He said his wife advised him: “‘Stay out here. Let’s just go.’ But that’s not going to happen. It’s not what you’re trained to do.”
“I go back in, see the victim shot in the stomach. He’s hunched over holding himself. I get on the phone with 911,” Johnsen said. “The victim turns around points and says there’s the suspect there. By the time I start going that way, he’s laying on the ground, giving up. It never happens.”
The detective’s gut kicked in again before the alleged gunman could change his mind.
“I took his gun, disassembled it, and shortly after, two Hobart officers came in,” Johnsen said.
Police said the person who was shot was stabilized and will be transported to a hospital for treatment.
“It’s something you try and prepare for,” Johnsen said. “You tell your kids, ‘Hey stay with me.’ Something I try to tell my wife is ‘Let’s stay together.’ You try not to separate too much in stores because you never know nowadays.”
The female who was with the suspect was released without pending charges, police said Monday. The male remains in custody and charges were expected to be filed on Tuesday.
The male who was shot had his condition stabilized and is recovering, police said.
Investigators say the shooting started as an argument between people who know each other, but it escalated.
Detective Johnsen works with the Gangs and Narcotics Unit at the East Chicago Police Department. But at 3:50 p.m. Sunday, he was off duty with no handcuffs and no backup.
The Johnsens never did get their fishing supplies, but they are thankful knowing there is always tomorrow.
The East Chicago Police Chief said of Johnsen: “Had it not been for his swift selfless actions, the situation could’ve been worse. He was able to stop the threat and prevent any further harm or danger to the patrons and workers inside of that store.”
The Sunday shooting was the second shooting at the same Walmart in less than a year.
On Sept. 30, 2018 a gunman shot two people in the parking lot of the same Walmart. A 9-year-old boy and his 25-year-old father were wounded in the shooting.