As others were fleeing the store seeking safety, off-duty police officer Michael Howell began tracking Ronald Hunt, who was brandishing a firearm and yelling at customers, through the store. Howell has worked for an area police department for 22 years, and used his substantial skills to stalk Hunt and bring the incident to a close.
The events took places at a Lenexa, Kansas, Costco, when Hunt, 58, began menacing customers and, as reported by the Daily Mail, stating, “I’m an off-duty US marshal and I’m here to kill people.” According to official records, Hunt was not a US marshal, even though he was claiming to be.
Howell, a member of the Kansas City Police Department, was shopping with a friend on his day off, hoping to find an electric fireplace at the store, when the incident began, and he decided to take action.
Howell expertly tracked Hunt through the store.
Along the way, Howell stated his “greatest fear was we had kids with their moms, with their grandmas, with their dads,” in the store.
“It was little kids running and screaming,” said Howell. “And seeing the fear in their faces and knowing whatever it took, I had to do whatever necessary to end this threat so they wouldn’t get hurt.”
When Howell located Hunt, Howell had to formulate a plan, as he was not wearing a bulletproof vest. “I could see a white male, looked kind of disheveled, wearing a camo jacket, waving a large revolver, looked like about 10 to 12 inches long, pushing a grocery cart and not looking at anybody,” said Howell. “But I heard him say three different times, ‘I’m an off-duty US marshal and I’m here to kill people.’”
When Hunt turned his firearm toward the officer, Howell fired, killing the gunman.
No other customers were injured during the incident, and Howell also sustained no injuries during the encounter.
Howell was modest after being labeled a hero, saying, “I’m just a cop doing my job.”
It is not believed that Hunt had a particular target in mind when he entered the store with the firearm. Hunt also never fired the gun.