Yakima man says he was defending family during Walmart shooting

31-year-old man shot twice, in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center

YAKIMA, Wash. — Yakima police declined to arrest a 37-year-old man accused of shooting another man in a Walmart parking lot Thursday after he told investigators he was defending himself and his family during an attempted robbery.

“At this point, we’re leaning towards this being a self-defense type of incident,” Sgt. Jake Lancaster said.

Lancaster said the 37-year-old was eating lunch in his car with his girlfriend and her 16-year-old child in the Walmart parking lot at 1600 E. Chestnut Ave. before going grocery shopping. At just after 4 p.m., someone reportedly got out of a car parked behind them, opened the family’s car door and pointed a firearm at them.

“At that point, he was demanding money and then he was demanding they get out of their vehicle,” Lancaster said.

Lancaster said the 37-year-old driver produced his own firearm during the altercation, shot the unknown man multiple times and left the scene. He reportedly took his family to the nearby Target parking lot, called 911 to report the incident and waited for police to arrive.

RELATED: East Yakima shooting victim was revived after drug-related altercation at Walmart parking lot

Meanwhile, the 31-year-old man was being treated at the crime scene for gunshot wounds to the chest and neck. Police said the man may have died at the scene were it not for an AMR ambulance crew that was on break in the parking lot and responded seconds after the shooting.

“By the time they got there, he had stopped breathing and so they were rendering first aid CPR when the officers arrived,” Capt. Jay Seely said.

The man was taken to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital for emergency surgery, then tranferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he remains in critical condition Friday night.

Investigators said they noticed what appeared to be drugs in the man’s vehicle, but are having to wait on a search warrant to be able to take a closer look. They do not believe the incident was gang-related.

Lancaster said after arriving at the Target parking lot, detectives took the 37-year-old man and his family to the police station for questioning. He said they did not arrest the man, who told investigators the shooting was self-defense.

“We have discussed this with the prosecutors but we’re still too early in the investigation to have made a full decision on whether or not charges will be filed,” Lancaster said. “Sometimes these things take a while and with the self defense claims, we’re going to have to do a lot more investigating.”

RECENT HEADLINES FROM THE KAPP KVEW NEWS STAFF:

RELATED: Kennewick robber trespassed in backyard, stole keys from homeowner