Police in Arkansas fatally shoot man who barricaded himself at a shopping mall

Police respond to an incident in the Lewis Crossing Shopping Center on Saturday, April 6, 2024 in Conway, Ark. Shots were fired, although it wasn’t immediately clear where the shots came from. Arkansas State Police were investigating the incident as an “officer-involved shooting,” KATV-TV reported. (KATV via AP)

CONWAY, Arkansas (AP) — Police in central Arkansas shot a man who later died after the man fired at officers at a shopping mall Saturday morning.

Conway police said on Facebook that officers responded to a report about a man who had driven a vehicle into a massage therapy business at the Lewis Crossing Shopping Center. A SWAT team found an armed man who barricaded himself in a room. While Conway police officers were talking to the man, they said he shot at them and officers returned fire, striking the man. No officers were injured.

Officer Shad Foley, a spokesperson for the Conway Police Department, said the man was taken to a hospital. Police later said the man, who hasn’t been identified by officials, died.

Foley said he could not confirm why the man crashed his vehicle into the Massage Envy storefront, or whether police would file charges against him. “The investigation is still completely fresh and underway,” Foley said.

Photos and video from television stations showed the man’s white SUV completely inside the storefront. For a time, a police armored vehicle was parked outside.

Nearby businesses were cleared of customers and employees during the standoff. Bystander video showed the SWAT team with guns drawn forcibly entering a restaurant next to the massage business. Glass windows at the front of both businesses were shattered.

Arkansas State Police are investigating the shooting, as is standard in Arkansas when local police shoot someone. Cindy Murphy, a spokesperson for the state police, said investigators would present their findings to local prosecutors, who would decide whether officers had violated any laws. At least two officers were placed on leave by Conway Police until the investigation is complete.

Ashley McCoy, general manager of a Crumbl Cookies location, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that she was opening her store across the parking lot around 8:30 a.m. when she heard what she thought were gunshots.

She called police, and a dispatcher instructed her and other employees to stay inside.

“We were scared to death,” McCoy said. “We didn’t know it was just some guy barricading. All we could see on Facebook were posts saying, ‘active shooter,’ and so we’re all calling our families.”

Almost two hours later, they received word that it was safe to open.

Conway is a city of 67,000 people about 33 miles (53 kilometers) north of Little Rock.