Police have released a photo of a man they believe was involved in a shooting at a Fred Meyer store in Richland, Washington. They allege the suspect opened fire inside the store, killing one person and wounding a second person. The suspect was first identified by court documents, local media outlets and a leaked police memo as Aaron Christopher Kelly. Police later confirmed his identity. He was arrested less than 12 hours after the shooting.
The wounded person was a Fred Meyer employee who was in critical condition at an area hospital in the hours after the shooting, according to Richland Police Commander Chris Lee.
The shooting at 101 Wellsian Way was reported at 11:04 a.m. local time, Richland Police said in their initial news conference, held about three hours before their afternoon news conference. They were called for a report of shots fired from inside the store.
Anyone with information on the man in the photo or his whereabouts was asked to call 509-628-0333.
Police released a statement at about 1:30 p.m. saying they were continuing the search for the suspect, a middle aged white male.
Here’s what you need to know:
Richland Police Said the Person of Interest Was Armed With a Handgun
Richland Police issued a statement at 6 a.m. Tuesday, February 8, 2022, saying Kelly had been arrested without incident at about 11:30 p.m. They said he was being transported to jail to face first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder charges. The arrest occurred on Interstate 90 between Sprague and Spokane, police said. Sprague is about 110 miles from Richland, and Spokane is about 145 miles from Richland.
The shooting suspect had not been arrested about four hours after the shooting, with police seeking the public’s help in finding him. Police announced early the next morning he had been arrested.
“He is still at large,” Richland police Commander Chris Lee said in their first press conference. “We believe he is armed with a handgun.”
Lee was not immediately able to say how badly the wounded person was injured. He later said the person, a Fred Meyer employee, was in critical condition.
Lee said in the initial news conference that officers arrived on the scene of the store to find one person dead and the additional person injured. The injured person was transported to a hospital, he said. Lee said at the time they were not yet releasing the name of the suspect, although officers had confirmed his identity.
The photo of the person of interest shows a white male with his hair parted on the side and wearing a plaid shirt with a dark-colored down vest, a black gaiter or scarf pulled over his nose, light-colored pants and athletic shoes. Police are also looking for a light-colored or white pickup truck they believe is associated with the suspect.
Police are investigating whether the shooting was targeted, and working to determine any events that led to the shooting.
Anyone who has spotted the suspect was asked to call 911 and not approach him, police said, adding he is considered armed and dangerous.
Unions Representing the Workers Released Statements on the Shooting
United Food and Commercial Workers 1439 and UFCW 21, two unions representing workers, released statements in the aftermath of the shooting.
“Our communities are standing together in support of our co-workers and others in the Richland community who have been impacted by this shooting. Workers in our local grocery stores have experienced many safety concerns over the last two years under COVID. This tragic shooting is another shock to all of us. No one should have to worry about their safety when going into a store to get groceries for their family. We stand together with everyone in our community against this violence.” said Eric Renner, President of UFCW 1439.
UFCW 1439 said it represents workers in the Fred Meyers store, in addition to workers at other stores and workers in food processing and other industries.
“Today, and in the coming weeks, we will do whatever we can to get support to the workers from this store and the local community,” said Faye Guenther, President of UFCW 21.
UFCW 21 represents workers at grocery stores in western Washington and workers in other industries, including health care workers in Richland, Washington.