Lenexa, KS – Captain Michael Howell, the off-duty Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) hero who took down an armed gunman at a Costco store in November, told his side of the story on Friday.
In an interview with DWAF, Capt. Howell recounted the events of Nov. 26, when Ronald Hunt, 58, barged into the crowded store and threatened shoppers and employees with a gun.
“It felt like time had stopped,” Capt. Howell said.
Police released store surveillance footage of the incident on Thursday.
Capt. Howell, who was off-duty and shopping at the time, was standing near the checkout area when Hunt entered the building at 11:10 a.m.
He said he realized something was wrong “when a large crowd of people just started running by me, you know, moms and dads grabbing their kids and the older people who could not move as fast as the younger ones.”
Once inside, Hunt waved a gun and pointed it at an employee. The video showed the employee as he dropped to his stomach and took cover behind a counter.
The surveillance footage then cut to the central shopping area, where customers and employees fled to the back of the store.
Hunt followed the exodus, marching through the store in the same direction as his potential victims, seemingly unaware that KCPD Captain Michael Howell was close behind.
The video showed Capt. Howell as he stealthily stalked Hunt through the store, weaving between rows of shelves.
“I made it about halfway through the store, basically to the center of the…big aisles and I could see a white male, looked kind of disheveled, wearing a camouflaged jacket…waving a large…revolver…pushing a grocery cart, Capt. Howell recalled. “I heard him say three different times, ‘I’m an off-duty U.S. Marshal and I’m here to kill people.’”
Capt. Howell said he followed Hunt until the gunman’s only options were to exit out the back door, or to turn back towards Capt. Howell.
“I wasn’t going to let him go either way,” Capt. Howell said.
Concealed behind a display, Capt. Howell announced himself as a police officer, and told Hunt to drop his gun.
“And then when I said ‘police’ the second time, to repeat what I had just said, he turned in my direction and pointed his revolver at me, and that’s when I fired my gun at him,” Capt. Howell recounted.
Hunt died from the gunshot, having never fired a round.
The heroic officer became emotional during the interview, especially as he considered what likely would have happened if hadn’t been in the right place at the right time.
“People would’ve been killed,” he said solemnly.
“I’ve done this job for 22 years,” Capt. Howell said. “I’ve seen a lot of carnage, and the carnage that I’ve seen is usually those that are the innocent, and I just didn’t want to have that happen if I was in a position to do something to prevent it.”
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said that Capt. Howell “acted with extreme courage, and saved an unknown amount of innocent lives.”
He will not face any charges in relation to the shooting, Howe said.
Since the shooting, Capt. Howell said he has received cards from strangers throughout the country, and that some have even been from relatives of people who were in the Costco that day.
As a gesture of appreciation, Costco awarded Capt. Howell with a lifetime membership to the store.
He was also invited to attend the business’s Christmas party.
You can watch Capt. Howell describe the incident in the video below: