The Kohl’s shooting that took place in the store’s parking lot Thursday night was a chaotic scene and the shooting incident struck terror in the hearts of Black Friday shoppers who witnessed the event. As reported by the Chicago Tribune on Nov. 29, the Kohl’s shooting caused quite a spectacle, however, the shooting didn’t halt shopping at the Kohl’s store in Romeoville, Illinois.
According to the report, the Kohl’s shooting incident was caused by shoplifters who dragged a police officer’s stuck arm in their vehicle while trying to flee the scene. Police in Romeovile, Ill., which is located in the southwest suburban area of Chicago, received a call from Kohl’s store employees shortly after 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving about shoplifters in the store.
When police arrived at Kohl’s and proceeded to confront Robert Russell, the suspected shoplifter, he began to flee the store. Officers chased Russell, who jumped into the passenger seat of a car, authorities explained.
One of the officers managed to catch up to the fleeing car on foot, and while the officer attempted to handcuff Russell who was in the passenger’s seat, he slammed the car door shut on the officer’s arm.
The driver of the vehicle, who was identified as 52-year-old Charles Hinch, drove off with the officer’s arm still stuck in the car’s door thus causing the officer to be dragged.
Despite police order’s for the driver to immediately stop the vehicle, Hinch refused to stop. Police were forced to fire shots at the vehicle while Kohl’s shoppers looked on in terror. The backup officer fired three or four shots into the car, hitting the driver in the left arm.
Following the Kohl’s shooting, police arrested three suspects. Gerald Chamberlain, 28, has been charged with theft and 51-year-old Robert Russell has been charged with attempted murder, retail theft and obstructing an officer. Hinch was also arrested and he faces felony charges as well. However, he is currently hospitalized due to a gunshot wound he received as a result of the Kohl’s shooting incident.
The officer who was dragged during the Kohl’s shooting sustained a non-life-threatening shoulder injury and he was taken to Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital in nearby Bolingbrook. He was treated and released and is expected to make a full recovery.
Chamberlain and Russell were booked into the county jail Friday morning and are scheduled to appear in court Saturday.
Chamberlain, who was arrested inside Kohl’s, is being held on suspicion of felony theft.
According to Will County State’s attorney spokesman Charles Pelkie, Russell’s charges in the Kohl’s shooting are being reviewed and he is expected to receive an additional charge of aggravated battery to a police officer. Formal charges will be filed for preliminary hearings and bail on Saturday, Pelkie said.
All three suspects in the Kohl’s shooting incident have prior arrest records and Russell has a previous shoplifting arrest from 2009.
Chamberlain was arrested in May on drug possession charges and is already scheduled to appear in court Dec. 23 on traffic charges.
Records indicate that since 1986, Hinch has been in prison eight times for burglary, shoplifting, drug dealing and forgery.
By Friday morning the scene of the Kohl’s parking lot shooting was nearly back to normal and Black Friday shoppers who arrived at the Kohl’s store a few hours after the shooting seemed unbothered by the recent event.
Phil Koster, who witnessed the entire Kohl’s shooting incident, told media outlets:
“Definitely not something I expected tonight. [I was] just doing some light shopping, trying to get in the Black Friday spirit, buy a few things. A little shaken up. Not bad or anything. I was within 5 feet of everything happening. It was very surreal.”
Other’s were surprised at the fact that the Kohl’s shooting stemmed from such trivial items. Karen Hasberger of Romeoville told the Chicago Sun Times.
“What bothers me is it was over clothing. So that’s upsetting that somebody felt they had to steal clothing, and a police office put his life on the line for that. It’s not like a jewelry heist or a bank robbery.”
Kohl’s issued the following statement in an email regarding the shooting: “A police investigation is under way into this matter. We are cooperating with the authorities leading the investigation and are referring all media inquiries to police.”
“This is definitely a rare occurrence,” Romeoville Police Chief Mark Turvey said early Friday. “We’ve had shoplifting on Black Friday, but something like this is rare.”
The officer who fired at the suspects during the Kohl’s shooting will be on station duty during the investigation of the incident, Turvey stated.