Gun discharged at Home Depot; young Kroger employee thwarts shoplifter

COVINGTON -- Several Home Depot shoppers dodged a bullet -- literally -- Sunday afternoon, according to the Covington Police Department.

A call came in to 911 dispatchers that said two people had possibly been shot inside the store around 2:15 p.m., an incident report states.

When officers arrived at the store, they discovered "there was an accidental discharge of a gun and four people, including the owner of the gun, had been slightly injured by fragments of the bullet," the report states.

"The gun owner ... stated he was walking towards the checkout area when his leather holster and gun fell off his belt and onto the floor, causing the gun to discharge. (He) stated the clip part of the holster came loose from the leather causing it to fall from his hip where it was attached to his belt. (He) stated he then picked up the gun and placed it on a shelf and told an employee to call 911," the officer said in the report.

The man's brother was with him and he stated he heard a loud bang and saw the gun on the floor.

"He stated he felt something hit his leg and looked down and saw that his right calf was bleeding in two places," the report stated. "By the time I arrived he had determined he had not been shot, but had been struck by some of the bullet fragments," the report stated, adding that he was treated and released by EMS at the scene.

Another man reported he had just checked out and heard the loud bang just behind where he was standing.

"(He) stated immediately after hearing the loud bang, he felt a pain in his right hand," the officer reported, adding that he was able to determine that that individual, too, was hit by a bullet fragment, though it had not broken the skin. He was checked out by EMS and released at the scene.

A fourth victim said he was in the check-out line when he heard something fall and then heard a shot.

"(He) stated he looked back and saw a person picking up a gun. (A man in line with him) had a small scratch on his lower right leg from bullet fragments," the report states, adding that this man, too, was treated by EMS and released at the scene.

CPD officers state no charges were filed at the time of the incident, but an investigation is ongoing and charges could come later.

In other crime news, a shoplifter allegedly attacked a female loss prevention officer who was attempting to detain him at Kroger on U.S. Highway 278 last week and a 17-year-old bag boy wound up being the hero of the day.

Arrested was Jeffery Wade Pace, 42, of 1830 Poplar St., Conyers, who was charged with theft by shoplifting, battery, public drunkenness and probation violation in connection with the May 1 incident.

The loss prevention officer told CPD officers that she observed Pace putting $54.81 worth of tenderloin steaks into the front of his pants and walk immediately towards the front exits without paying for them.

"(When) she approached the male and identified herself, (she) stated he turned towards her, hit her in the face and then attempted to run out of the store," according to the incident report.

It was then that the bagger saw what was happening and as the alleged shoplifter attempted to back out of the store, he grabbed him.

"He continued to struggle and the store employee then wrestled him to the ground and held onto him until we could get there," said CPD spokesman Capt. Ken Malcom. "His statement to us was that when he saw the lady get hit and the guy basically backed into him, his natural reaction was to stop him."

Malcom said it was fortunate that no one else was hurt during the incident.

"We urge people to be good witnesses, but keep a safe distance from somebody who is acting in an aggressive manner like that," he said. "At the same time, this young man ended the threat and an arrest was made."