Armed Civilians Hampered Police Probe at CO Walmart

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As a gunman fired inside a Walmart store in a Denver suburb, most shoppers crouched behind checkout counters or bolted toward the back exit. Some patrons took a more defensive approach: They grabbed their own guns, the Los Angeles Times reports. They were the proverbial “good guys with guns” that gun rights advocates say have the power to stop mass shootings. Police in Thornton, Co., said well-intentioned gun carriers set the stage for chaos, stalling efforts to capture the suspect in the Wednesday night shooting that killed three people.

None of the armed civilians fired their weapons, and the suspect managed to flee the store. Police began combing through store security camera footage to identify him and determined whether he had an accomplice.Videos showed several people in the store with their guns drawn. That forced detectives to watch more video, following the armed shoppers throughout the store in an effort to distinguish the good guys from the bad guy. Investigators went “back to ground zero” several times as they struggled to pinpoint the suspect. Five hours after the shooting, police identified 47-year-old Scott Ostrem as the gunman. He was arrested Thursday morning. The assessment by police that armed civilians hampered their investigation is being embraced by gun control advocates, who argue that more guns at a shooting scene add up to more problems. “Especially civilians with weapons — it does nothing but possibly cause more chaos and harm,” said Tom Sullivan, who became a gun control advocate after his son, Alex, 27, was killed with 11 other people by a gunman who opened fire inside an Aurora, Co., movie theater in 2012.

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