Suspect dies in Walmart shooting, two officers on administrative leave

A Tennessee man died from injuries sustained during an officer involved shooting in the parking lot of Walmart in Chipley Jan. 18.

Chipley Police Chief Scott Thompson held a press conference Thursday to give details of the incident.

The suspect was identified as 44-year-old Shawn Joseph Pearce of Cleveland, Tennessee. According to Thompson, the incident began 10 minutes prior to the shooting at the intersection of Brickyard Road and U.S. 77 where Pearce pulled up next to a school bus and crawled halfway out of the sunroof of his vehicle and began to scream at surrounding vehicles.

Calls began to come into 911 as officers were en route to the scene just before 5 p.m. Pearce then turned his attention to the school bus as he climbed completely out of the sunroof to stand on the hood of his car and beat on the door of the school bus and demand the driver open the door. The light changed and the bus driver drove away from the scene.

Pearce then reentered his vehicle and turned south and drove to Walmart. Upon parking his vehicle, Pearce exited and began to harass and attack an elderly gentleman and another citizen as they were returning to their vehicles. Officers arrived on scene and made contact with one of the callers and the suspect as backup officers began to arrive.

Thompson stated that Pearce became combative and was able to obtain an officer’s taser after which gunfire rang out and Pearce was shot. Pearce was transported to a local hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is conducting an investigation into the officer involved shooting which is standard practice any time a law enforcement officer is involved in the use of deadly physical force.

Thompson stated his office is conducting an investigation of the incident as well as an internal investigation. Two Chipley police officers are on administrative leave as a result of the incident which Thompson categorized as a justifiable use of force.