- Posted April 21, 2012 by
Morgantown, West Virginia
Deadly Shooting at Morgantown West Virginia WalMart
According to WV MetroNews a Shinnston man, apparently motivated by an ongoing domestic dispute, killed his daughter-in-law in the parking lot of a Morgantown Walmart Saturday morning. Shannon Stafford, 29, of Bruceton Mills, pulled into the Hornbeck Road Walmart parking lot shortly after 9:30 a.m. to meet a family member, police said. Stafford, also known as Shannon Mitchell, was still in her car when Larry Mitchell, 54, of Shinnston, walked up to Stafford’s car and began firing rounds from a handgun, according to police. Stafford opened her car door and attempted to flee, but was gunned down by Mitchell and died in the parking lot, police said. Emergency medical personnel attempted to revive Stafford, but were unsuccessful. Mitchell is the father of Stafford’s estranged husband. Police said the shooting likely stemmed from an ongoing domestic dispute involving the couple. Stafford and Mitchell’s son were in the process of divorcing, police said. Posts made on Stafford’s Facebook wall Saturday indicate a custody battle over the couple’s young daughter may have sparked Mitchell’s actions. Police Chief Ed Preston said Mitchell’s son currently has custody of the child. Though Stafford drove to Walmart to meet family, she did not expect Mitchell to be there, Police Chief Ed Preston said during a press conference Saturday. “It appears she was coming here to meet not Mr. Mitchell but another family member, and Mr. Mitchell arrived,” Preston said.
It’s unclear how Mitchell knew Stafford was going to Walmart. Police said they believe Mitchell acted alone.
“We are investigating all of that right now,” Preston said. “None of the parties are from Monongalia County or Morgantown, so we are working with authorities from Harrison County to look at the history of this.” Stafford previously lived in Shinnston with Mitchell, but has since moved as divorce proceedings continued, police said.
Several eyewitnesses described a chaotic scene wherein they subdued Mitchell and attempted to revive Stafford while waiting for emergency officials to arrive.
David Frishknecht, a truck driver from California, said he drove into the parking lot shortly after Mitchell fired the fatal shots. “I noticed some commotion, and then I realized a lady was on the ground and she was deceased,” Frishknecht said. Marcus McCartney said he was waiting in line at the Garden Center in Walmart when a woman frantically ran into the store saying there had been a shooting in the parking lot. “She ran and said, ‘call 911, someone just fired six shots,’” McCartney said. “So before they locked the doors, they asked us to come out and help.” A woman spotted Mitchell as he left the scene and climbed in his truck. McCartney, Frishknecht and at least one other man approached Mitchell, ordered him out of his truck and forced him to the ground. Frishknecht said Mitchell complied with the requests. He said Mitchell unloaded the gun and placed it in the back of his pickup truck.
“He was admitting to the shooting,” Frishknecht said. McCartney described the 54-year-old Mitchell as a “weak, older” man. At one point, bystanders suggested allowing Mitchell to get up off the ground. However, when Mitchell moved to get up, McCartney grabbed him and forced him back to the pavement.
“He just killed a woman, and I didn’t know if he had something in his pockets,” McCartney said. “I said, ‘we’re going to let the police handle this.’”
McCartney said he remained on top of Mitchell until police arrived. During that time, Mitchell suggested a custody issue forced his hand, McCartney said.
“He kept saying something about his granddaughter and CPS (child protective services) and how they aren’t doing anything, so he had to do something,” McCartney said. During Saturday’s press conference, Preston praised the bravery of the men who held Mitchell for police. “The good citizens responded at jeopardy to themselves to detain Mr. Mitchell at the scene,” Preston said.
Mitchell was denied bond at his hearing on Wed. May 2, 2012