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The man who allegedly shot and killed an Instacart worker and critically injured a Fred Meyer employee appeared in court for the first time on Tuesday following an 11-hour manhunt.
Aaron Christopher Kelly, 39, was brought into the Benton County Superior Courthouse for a preliminary hearing wearing a green jumpsuit and a white face mask below his nose just one day after he allegedly opened fire at the Richland Fred Meyer grocery store and fled the scene.
Justin Krumbah, 38, was killed in the shooting after having a ‘quick conversation’ with Kelly, and Mark A. Hill, 66, a Fred Meyer employee working near the customer service desk was critically injured.
After a nearly 11 hour search for Kelly, he was ultimately arrested by police on Monday night on Interstate 90 between Sprague and Spokane, more than 130 miles from the crime scene.
He was booked into the Benton County jail just after 2am on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder. He is now being held on a $1 million bail.
Aaron Kelly, 39, was arrested on Monday night following an intense manhunt in Washington following a deadly shooting at a Fred Meyer grocery store
In court on Tuesday, attorney Katherine Bohnet requested moving Kelly’s arraignment out two weeks to February 23, according to the Tri-City Herald.
She added that her colleague, Michael Vander Sys with the Benton County Office of Public Defense, asked to be appointed to the case.
Prosecutor Andy Miller did not object to Bohnet’s request to move the arraignment, at which Kelly will be officially charged, but said Kelly needed to be the one to make the request to waive his right to a speedy arraignment.
Kelly then confirmed for Judge Joe Burrowes that he wanted to postpone the hearing, when it is likely defense attorneys may ask for a lower bail.
This grainy image from a surveillance camera shows the suspected gunman without a mask at the Fred Meyer store. Staff said he had shoplifted from there before, most recently last Thursday
He is accused of opening fire on an Instacart shopper, killing him, and injuring a 66-year-old store worker, before wandering out of the supermarket
Kelly was identified as the alleged shooter by a tipster who recognized his picture in social media posts as local law enforcement tried to identify the suspect in the shooting at around 11am on Monday.
A Kennewick Fred Meyer employee also identified Kelly as the suspect, reportedly telling officers that Kelly is a frequent shoplifter and was at the store as recently as last Thursday, wearing the same clothing he was pictured in before the shooting.
He is said to have had a ‘quick conversation’ with Krumbah, a local Instacart shopper, as he entered aisle 14 of the grocery store, according to a probable cause document.
Surveillance footage shows Kelly entering the store just after 11am with a shopping cart, but he does not appear to select anything from the store.
When he passed Krumbah, the document states ‘There appears to be a quick conversation between the two, then the victim goes back about his business.
‘Mr. Kelly then shoots the victim with a handgun. Mr. Kelly then shoots the victim several more times while [Krumbah] is on the ground.’
After leaving aisle 14, Kelly approached costumer service, where he allegedly shot Hill, leaving him critically injured. He was later taken to a hospital, where he underwent surgery. His condition is unknown at this time.
Witnesses reported hearing as many as 10 gunshots during the incident, which lasted less than 5 minutes, and according to the probable cause document, ‘There were numerous spent 9mm handgun casings around both victims.’
No motive has been released as of Tuesday.
This map shows the location of the Fred Meyer store in Richland, where the fatal shooting took place, and Interstate 90 between Sprague and Spokane, where Kelly was arrested
Grocery store employees and customers were seen fleeing the Fred Meyer on Monday
Ambulances and police vehicles are seen outside the supermarket on Wellsian Way
SWAT Teams were called in to assist local law enforcement in the shooting
Police and sheriff’s deputies from around the area said they started receiving calls about possible shots being fired at the store at 11.03am and converged on the scene within a minute.
Dispatch officers reported at the time that the shooter was still in the building and at least one person was down.
The Tri-City Herald reported that a chaplain was also summoned.
Officers and members of the Richland Fire Department quickly began life-saving operations, but Krumbrah was pronounced dead on the scene.
An unnamed store employee was also wounded and transported to a local hospital for treatment. He remained in critical condition Monday afternoon as he underwent surgery.
Agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were called in to assist. The ATF later announced it was sending agents from its Yakima field office to help with the investigation.
SWAT teams were also on the scene Monday morning, and confirmed that the suspect was no longer in the building.
Bryant Scott (left), Kelly’s former landlord, told police the suspect ‘had been spiraling mentally and is very paranoid’
Police said Kelly left the store and fled the scene in his 2005 Honda Civic, as a $1million nationwide warrant was issued for his arrest.
During the hourslong search for Kelly, police contacted his former landlord, Bryant Scott, who told them that the 39-year-old ‘had been spiraling mentally and is very paranoid,’ according to the probable cause statement.
Scott, a retired US Marine and Kelly’s former landlord and roommate, said that in 2020, he had begged a judge to take his tenant’s gun away when he refused to move out of his home and allegedly tried to poison his dogs, but no action was taken.
After Monday’s shooting, Scott told police that he had seen Kelly with a 9mm handgun and identified him as the man seen on store surveillance video during the rampage.
One witness reported hearing at least 10 shots fired inside the store, the Herald reported.
Grocery store workers and customers reportedly huddled in stock rooms, restrooms and back offices, awaiting police to lead them to safety.
‘The terror in the eyes of these people that came and took cover in my shop,’ a nearby business owner, Robert Cronkite told KIRO Newsradio. ‘I just, I mean, I had never seen terror in anyone’s eyes quite like what I saw there.’
‘The guy that did it …He literally walked out of there, casually pushing a shopping cart. And you can see the satchels, you know, the gurney bag, wherever he’s got these guns when he walked out. He gets in his white Dodge pickup, and the guy drives off.’
In a statement, a spokesperson for the supermarket chain said: ‘We are deeply saddened by the incident that occurred at our Fred Meyer store located on 101 Wellsian Way in Richland, Washington.
‘The entire Fred Meyer family offers our thoughts, prayers and support to all affected individuals and families during this difficult time.’
The spokesperson added: ‘We are cooperating with local law enforcement who have secured the store and parking lot. The store will remain closed while the police investigation continues, and we have initiated counseling services for our associates.’
Former landlord of Fred Meyer gunman, 39, ‘who shot dead Instacart shopper, 38,’ reveals judge refused to take accused murderer’s gun away and turned down restraining order
During the hourslong search for Aaron Kelly, Bryant Scott shared photos of his former tenant on social media, asking anyone who comes across him to call the police
The former landlord and roommate of accused Fred Meyer gunman Aaron Christopher Kelly, 39, penned a lengthy post on his Facebook page, detailing Kelly’s alleged campaign of harassment against him and his friends, including unverified claims that the suspect had attempted to poison Scott’s two dogs and possessed child pornography.
Bryant Scott wrote in the now-deleted status update that for a year and a half during the pandemic, he tried in vain to evict Kelly, but the man would not leave, ‘deliberately being a nuisance, refusing to talk to police, and doing everything in his power to get under our skin, especially mine,’ he claimed.
Scott added: ‘the culminating result, was me having to sell my home to get away from him because he refused to leave.’
Franklin County Superior Court records indicate that in October 2020, Scott made a complaint against Kelly, accusing him of unlawful harassment.
Scott alleged that during his arguments with Kelly, the 39-year-old displayed what he called ‘the dark triad… of psychopathy,’ including selfishness, antisocial behavior and ‘remorselessness.’
According to the retired Marine, when he tried to raise the alarm about Kelly’s ‘mental instability,’ he said an unnamed judge ignored his warnings and openly scoffed at him.
‘I attempted to get a restraining order when he was harassing my friends as well as due to him repeatedly attempting to murder my dogs,’ Scott claimed. ‘I will not name the judge who ignored my warning but I can tell you he seemed to be more proud of being on the bench, rather than being mindful of the unique responsibility he had been entrusted. My stomach was in knots when I was told there is nothing they would do.’
Scott said he also asked the judge to have Kelly’s pistol taken away, but that request was also rejected.
‘The judge chose not to take any action on account he didn’t think the poison Aaron repeatedly tried to feed to my dogs could have killed them,’ the landlord wrote.
Even after Kelly finally left Scott’s home, the landlord said he was told by another judge and the police that ‘their hands were tied’ and there was nothing they could do to ‘take away his means of violence, or provide him with the obvious help he needed,’ ultimately resulting in Monday’s cold-blooded killing.
Scott expressed relief that Kelly has been arrested.
‘He won’t have the satisfaction of manipulating any more people, giving that smug smirk to the police, or doing the run around with the courts with his superficial innocence,’ the landlord stated. ’The nightmare has finally ended.’
Justin Krumbah, 38, was identified as the victim killed in a shooting at a Richland, Washington Fred Meyer grocery store Monday morning
Following the shooting, friends and co-workers took to social media to remember Krumbah, who they said always wore a smile as he bought groceries for his clients.
A GoFundMe was also set up to raise money for his funeral expenses, and by 9pm local time, it had already raised more than $14,000, with many people sharing their condolences and remembering Krumbah for his outgoing personality.
‘He always had a smile on his face an was an absolute joy to be around,’ wrote Alexander Weeks, a store employee at the Richland Fred Meyer. ‘He was far and away one of my favorite parts of coming in and made those extra hard days seem not so bad.’
Destiny Underwood, whose Facebook page identifies her as the deli manager at the Fred Meyer posted that she planned to start a credit union donation for Krumbah so donations could go directly to his family.
‘He was an amazing guy,’ she wrote. ‘I always ha a bit of a better day when h was in.
‘It’s truly heartbreaking that he had to go to heaven today.’
Tributes had also poured into his Facebook page, where Krumbah often posted pictures of himself in different outfits as he began his Instacart shift every day.
His most recent post, on January 26, showed him donning an apron emblazoned with the Seattle Seahawks logo with the caption: ‘Hi ho, hi ho, off to work I go.’
A friend at the time asked: ‘You wear an apron now?’ to which Krumbah responded: ‘I take pride in my work no matter what I do! Always gotta be professional.’
Many more people commented on the photo following the news of the shooting, with one Richland woman saying she met him in the checkout line of the Fred Meyer last Saturday and spoke ‘about how you enjoyed Instacart and how you approached it with an outstanding work ethic.
‘My day was made by your positive, can-do attitude.’
A man immediately replied to the comment writing that he had the same experience working with Krumbah, calling him a ‘very positive and outgoing man.’
And another woman wrote that Krumbah was her family’s Instacart driver ‘every time we shopped at Fred Meyer.
‘You always sent a message when you accepted our order and said it was a pleasure to shop for us again,’ she wrote. ‘I never got to meet you, but your friendly messages made my day every time we used Instacart.
‘The world lost a light today,’ she added.