A woman who provides pizza samples to customers for Costco as an employee of an independent food vendor was shot dead today, 5/29/13, by Sheriff’s deputies in Sterling, Va according to NBC News. The shooting allegedly occurred after the woman went berserk and started brandishing a knife and scissors and acting wild. She then apparently went after officers with the knife and was shot by deputies of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. According to NBC, the woman, who has been identified as Mhai Scott of Sterling, Va, was approached by a deputy with a stun gun who then tried to use it on her in lieu of lethal force. However, according to Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman, the stun gun did not work, and another deputy shot Scott dead as she continued her rampage towards the officers with the knife and scissors in hand.
According to NBC News, the incident, which took place outside the Costco food court, stirred up the customers in the store and in the parking lot. Apparently several motorists were honking their horns while shoppers on foot ran around screaming. It was not clear from news sources, however, whether or not the onlookers specifically blamed the officers for their actions of self defense. Allegedly Scott was very upset over the pizza that she was serving and became increasingly dangerous to officers and to spectators as the incident ensued. One of the spectators reportedly told reporters at the scene that she had made contact with Scott just before the incident and that she seemed to be “nice” when she encountered her.
Deputies reportedly evacuated the Costco after the incident to begin their investigation, a common law enforcement practice after an officer involved shooting at a major crime scene. As is customary in all officer involved shootings, officers are placed on a desk job or on administrative leave pending a thorough investigation. It was unclear from the news coverage of this particular story whether or not this common practice would be followed in this case, but there is no reason to believe otherwise.
One thing that was clear from the incident was that most anybody is capable of going berserk and committing a major crime in a rampage and that officers must be prepared for these kinds of incidents at all times. The importance of ensuring that all weapons, including stun guns, carried by officers are fully functional at all times cannot be overemphasized. If the officer’s stun gun had worked, perhaps a 38 year-old mentally ill food sample woman would be alive today. Food for thought, isn’t it?