Customer charged with shooting at Wolfchase shoplifting suspect

Customer chased, shot at Wolfchase shoplifting suspect
(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)
Nathan Williams (Source: Bartlett Police Department)
Nathan Williams (Source: Bartlett Police Department)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A store customer inside Wolfchase Galleria chased and shot at a shoplifting suspect.

Memphis Police Department said a suspect shoplifted City Gear and ran into the parking lot. Bartlett Police later identified this suspect as 23-year-old Nathan Williams.

Christopher Jones, a customer, chased the shoplifter and opened fire in the parking lot. Police said Jones fired a round into the ground to scare the shoplifting suspect. The suspect was not shot.

Jones was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a weapon.

At that point, Williams ran across Highway 64 and tried to carjack two vehicles.

Upon arrival, police found two men holding Williams on the ground.

The two men told police they found Williams holding onto a moving SUV and saw him fall off.

Williams then asked an ambulance driver for a ride, to which the driver said the only place they could go would be the emergency room.

Refusing to go to the ER, Williams stole the key out of the ignition in the ambulance and ran away. A passenger in the ambulance chased Williams down and tackled him to the ground. At some point during this exchange, the key was broken.

Williams is charged with criminal attempted burglary of a motor vehicle and vandalism under $500.

"I hear about stuff up here all the time like that," Kellie Apperson said.

Apperson said a recent wave of incidents at the mall has her afraid to go to Wolfchase.

"It depends on during the day. I only come up here around 10 a.m. Any later than that, I don't come up here at all," Apperson said.

Barnes & Noble store manager Robert Neely said the incident happened just behind his store and it caused some concern with customers.

"We had some customers that were concerned because they saw all the police cars and then they saw the EMT. They were just a little concerned," Neely said. "But the police officers, they were quick to respond."

Police said no one was injured by the gunfire.

Despite the incident and others before this one, Neely said he is not worried.

"I'm always about the safety of my customers and my employees. This is a pretty safe area," Neely said.

However, it doesn't stop customers like Apperson from worrying.

"I do, but I'm very aware of what is going on around me," Apperson said. "It's going downhill. It's very sad."

Some customers said it is sad that they need to arm themselves in order to feel protected, but that is what many are doing.

"I'm a gun-carrying citizen, so I think more people need to arm themselves just to be ready for something like that that does happen," Scott Cummings said.

Cummings said it is a sad reality when people have to prepare for violence when they go shopping or work in the wall. He said the first response should not be violence, but it is an option today.

"I obviously would flee, but if confronted with someone, you have to deal with it," Cummings said.

In the past few weeks, shots fired in the parking garage at Oak Court Mall, and a violent confrontation inside Oak Court are a couple incidents that remain on the minds of shoppers.

Last summer, attempted murder charges were filed after two men were shot at in the Wolfchase parking lot.

"Unfortunately, the police can't do everything, and it continues to get worse," Cummings said.

According to MPD statistics, there is a crime reported almost daily between Wolfchase, Oak Court, Raleigh Springs, Southland and Hickory Ridge malls. The vast majority of those are not violent crimes, but Monday's incident began as a shoplifting crime before escalating to shots fired.

"We haven't had anything like this, you know, recently anyway," Neely said. "I haven't seen any violent crime out here. The biggest problem I see out here in this area: people soliciting."

Even so, Cummings said it's clear something has to be done about the crime around area malls.

"I think we need more policemen on the streets. I really do," Cummings said.

No charges have been filed in this recent case. Police are still investigating.

Wolfchase Galleria Mall Manager Charlie Tarkington released the following statement Tuesday morning:

"As this matter is now under investigation by the Memphis Police Department, any media inquiries should go through them...We are, of course, fully cooperating with their team."

Copyright 2016 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.