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Witnesses describe deadly police shooting outside Vancouver Safeway

Vancouver police detectives said the suspect was wanted for a prior armed robbery, and he shot at officers when he saw them as he exited a store.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Witnesses to a deadly police shooting in a Safeway parking lot in Vancouver on Tuesday afternoon described the incident as abrupt and frightening.

"All of a sudden I hear this pop, pop, pop, and then pop," Tina Palmer said.

Palmer was working at Ari's Hair Salon when she heard what she thought was fireworks. It turns out to be gunfire that was captured in a video recorded by an eyewitness.

"It is very frightening," Palmer said. "I don't like it."

Investigators said the incident unfolded around 5:30 p.m. when a police detective spotted an armed robbery suspect driving on East Mill Plain Boulevard in Vancouver.

The detective called for backup, and he and other officers watched the suspect park and go into the Safeway at the intersection of East Mill Plain and Andresen Road.

Several minutes later, the suspect came out of the store and began shooting at the law enforcement officers when he saw them, police said. Three Vancouver police officers and one deputy from the Clark County Sheriff's Office returned fire, killing the suspect.

The four who fired were Detective Colton Price, Detective Aaron Yoder and Officer Brandon Riedel from the Vancouver Police Department, plus Detective Zach Nielsen from the sheriff's office. The Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team released their names on June 8.

The deceased suspect was identified as Joshua James Wilson, 43, of Vancouver, police later said.

"It's always shocking to see when something bad happens to somebody," John Devlin said. 

Devlin is a manager at nearby Craft Cannabis. He said one of the dispensary's security cameras captured the deadly shootout.

"It kind of showed him reaching up with his arm," Devlin said. "He definitely had a weapon in his hand, pointing it at police and then from there they took action and we're pretty thankful for that."

Devlin said he and his colleagues are thankful because more than a dozen people were in the dispensary at the time of the shooting, but no customers were hurt. Tina Palmer escaped uninjured, as well.

"It's scary out there," Palmer said. "It doesn't matter where you live anymore."

The exchange of gunfire apparently caused some property damage; late Wednesday morning, a handyman could be seen repairing a door that was damaged in the shooting.

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