GIG HARBOR, Wash. — A 70-year-old man was charged Monday after he allegedly shot a man he believed was shoplifting at a Gig Harbor grocery store Saturday night.
Patrick Lathrop was charged Monday with first-degree assault for the alleged shooting.
Gig Harbor police responded to reports of a shooting at a grocery store on the 4800 block of Point Fosdick Drive around 11:20 p.m. Saturday. When officers arrived, they found a 40-year-old man suffering from an injury to the neck. He was conscious and alert, according to the Gig Harbor Police Department.
Lathrop identified himself as the shooter and immediately cooperated with officers, according to police. Officers took a 9mm handgun from the suspect.
Witnesses to the incident told police Lathrop confronted the victim as he was exiting the store with merchandise. Lathrop believed the victim was stealing the items and blocked the exit with his grocery cart and his body, according to police.
Lathrop later told detectives a cashier mentioned there had been a potential theft at the store, but the cashier did not provide additional details, according to probable cause documents.
Lathrop told detectives he saw the victim and his wife "loitering" near one of the store entrances, according to probable cause documents. He asked the victim and his wife to show the receipt of their purchase to store employees, according to probable cause documents. They both told Lathrop they were not stealing, according to probable cause documents.
A fight broke out between the two men. Lathrop told detectives the 40-year-old man began hitting him "without provocation," according to probable cause documents. Video surveillance shows the victim punching Lathrop multiple times - the altercation continued outside, where it was not in view of a camera, according to probable cause documents.
Lathrop brought out a handgun because he felt the 40-year-old was "beating him to death," according to probable cause documents. Lathrop told detectives he shot the victim once, then his firearm malfunctioned, according to probable cause documents. He fixed the firearm and fired a "test round," according to probable cause documents.
The second shot appeared to strike a glass door to the grocery store, police said.
The victim was taken to St. Joseph Hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries. He was released later that night.
Police confirmed with store employees that the victim and his wife did not steal anything, nor were they suspected of stealing, according to probable cause documents.
A police report indicates Lathrop refused medical services and said he had no injuries beyond "transitory marks, bumps, or bruising," according to probable cause documents.
Lathrop was booked into the Pierce County Jail.
On Monday, he pleaded not guilty to the first-degree assault charge. Bail was set at $100,000.
"If you’re going to confront somebody, or you want to confront somebody that you think is committing a crime, you can do that. But you can’t be the one that escalates it to the point that deadly force becomes the option that you go to,” said Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney John Sheeran during Lathrop's arraignment.
According to probable cause documents, Lathrop was involved in a similar incident last year. At the time, Lathrop was working for Pizza Hut and returning from a delivery when he heard a commotion along 48th Street in Tacoma, according to probable cause documents. When he confronted a male who he had seen "lifting car door handles earlier in the day" and who refused to leave the area when asked, the male taunted Lathrop and shoved him, according to probable cause documents.
Thinking the man wanted to fight him, Lathrop allegedly shot him in the chest, according to probable cause documents.
The victim was treated at a hospital but did not cooperate with police, according to probable cause documents.