Suspect arrested in Washington state grocery store shooting

Posted at 12:19 PM, February 8, 2022 and last updated 7:49 PM, July 13, 2023

By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A man suspected of opening fire inside a grocery store in Washington state, killing one person and injuring another, was a suspected shoplifter who appeared to be battling mental illness, according to court documents.

Aaron Christopher Kelly, 39, was arrested late Monday night in a vehicle on Interstate 90 near Spokane, and was scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday afternoon on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder, Richland police said.

This undated photo released by the Richland Wash., Police Department shows suspect Aaron Christopher Kelly. Police say the 39-year-old was detained late Monday night, Feb. 7, 2022, on I-90 near Spokane just before midnight. Police in the city of Richland where the shooting happened in a Fred Meyer store, say Kelly will be booked into the Benton County Jail on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder. The shooting left one man dead and the other man hospitalized in critical condition. (Richland WA Police Department via AP)

Kelly, was arrested on the freeway between the town of Sprague and Spokane, which is about two hours northeast of Richland, police said.

It wasn’t clear if Kelly had an attorney yet who could speak on his behalf.

Kelly was identified by police earlier Monday as the suspect in the shootings at a Fred Meyer grocery store in Richland.

In court documents, Kelly’s former roommate told police Kelly “has been spiraling mentally and is very paranoid.” Kelly was also known to carry a pistol, which made the roommate and others feel “extremely unsafe” when around him, the documents said.

Kelly was suspected last week of shoplifting at a different Fred Meyer store in nearby Kennewick, according to court documents.

An employee — who said Kennewick store workers were familiar with Kelly as a frequent shoplifter — snapped a picture of Kelly and his car as he left the Kennewick location last Thursday, the documents said.

Customers and employees are guided out of a Fred Meyer grocery store after a fatal shooting at the business on Wellsian Way in Richland, Wash., Monday, Feb. 7, 2022. (Jennifer King/The News Tribune via AP)

Kelly is accused of walking into the Richland Fred Meyer about 11 a.m. Monday and shooting customer Justin Krumbah multiple times in a grocery aisle. He then shot an employee, Mark A. Hill, had “some sort of conversation” with a shopper and wandered briefly in the store before leaving about 11:07 a.m., court documents said.
Krumbah, 38, died from his wounds despite efforts by the first officers on scene to save him.

Hill, 56, was carried out of the store to waiting paramedics and is fighting for his life at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, according to the Tri-City Herald newspaper.

Authorities stage outside a Fred Meyer grocery store after a fatal shooting at the business on Wellsian Way in Richland, Wash., Monday, Feb. 7, 2022. (Jennifer King/The News Tribune via AP)

The criminal case against Kelly was filed by Prosecutor Andy Miller in Benton County Superior Court just before the close of business Monday. That’s when Superior Court Judge Dave Petersen found probable cause to issue a $1 million nationwide warrant for Kelly’s arrest.

The Richland Fred Meyer remained closed Tuesday.

Richland is about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Seattle. It’s part of the Tri-Cities metro area, which includes Kennewick and Pasco and has a combined population of more than 280,000.