Student helps deter Walmart robbery
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07
One man died as a result of an attempted robbery at the College Station Walmart on Friday. There could have been more deaths, however, according to an employee involved in the struggle to disarm the suspect: a photo lab technician, also an Aggie.
“I was the other individual that stayed behind to help disarm the individual,” said education graduate student Christopher Williamson.
When it became clear that a shoplifting suspect who had been taken to a back room had a gun, everybody ran from the room, Williamson said. But Williamson turned back to assist the remaining loss-prevention officer. Due to his prior experience as a police officer, he said the reaction was “automatic.”
“As a cop you’re always involved in stuff,” he said. “What I was thinking in the situation was how to resolve it without anybody getting hurt.”
The graduate student, husband and father of two sustained minor injuries to his hand during the struggle with the suspect. Williamson said he acted out of impulse in a critical situation.
“You do a lot of things you don’t know you’re doing, but your body tells you it’s right because of prior experience,” he said.
Williamson said it was when he realized the loss-prevention officer was alone with the suspect that he turned back to help him.
“He needed help … my sole intention was to help a person in need. Also there was a concern for the customers in the store,” he said. “Anytime somebody has a firearm — anybody — there’s a lot of people in danger.”
Nothing mattered except that the loss-prevention officer who remained saved lives, Williamson said.
After earning an undergraduate degree from A&M in 2005, Williamson started his law enforcement career as a jailer. He was then sent to the police academy, after which he became a deputy for a municipal police department in Hector County, Texas. But he couldn’t see himself in that career long-term.
“I realized that environment was not conducive to a wife and kids, so I came back to A&M,” he said.
Williamson returned to Texas A&M to get his master’s degree in education.
“Texas A&M is very important to me — I named my daughter Reveille,” Williamson said. “That all pales in comparison to what [the loss-prevention officer] did for me. The man in that room saved my life.”
The room — isolated from the general public — was an office that is used when “certain irregularities occur with customers.”
The suspect, 47-year-old Robertson County resident Michael Bradshaw, attempted to steal a shopping cart full of items when Walmart employees approached him and began to escort him to the isolated loss-prevention office. Bradshaw began to struggle with the employees and pulled a gun from his pocket, said Rhonda Seaton, an officer with the College Station Police Department.
The loss prevention officer, whose identity has not been released as the investigation proceeds, obtained possession of the weapon, but not before the gun discharged. Bradshaw then pulled a knife on the two men. The loss-prevention officer fired a single shot, hitting Bradshaw in the torso, Seaton said.
Bradshaw was escorted to the College Station Medical Center where he died the same evening.
The incident is under investigation and Seaton said the case is unusual because of the number of people that were in the building during the incident.
“We usually don’t have that many potential witnesses. Detectives are still trying to make contact with everybody who did see and or hear something,” Seaton said. “The district attorney’s office will decide what, if any, action will be taken after that.”
Williamson said rumors circulating about Walmart’s response to the incident, including that the two involved employees had been fired, have been taken out of context.
“It disturbs me that there is a boycott being discussed, because of the way it is perceived that Walmart is handling the situation, but it is completely opposite of that,” Williamson said.
Williamson requested time off after Friday’s incident, partly due to his injuries. He said the injury was claimed on workers’ compensation, which will continue to financially support Williamson and his family.
“They are making sure my family and the other families are being taken care of,” Williamson said.
Walmart spokesman Greg Rossiter said Walmart employees’ thoughts and prayers are with Bradshaw’s family. Rossiter declined to comment about details around the incident or matters relating to the employment status of the two employees that apprehended the suspect.
Williamson said there is a spiritual component to his being present during Friday’s incident.
“I believe my background was driven by God to prepare me to assist this individual when the time came. I was just a tool used by God to affect a somewhat favorable outcome. Unfortunately an individual did die,” Williamson said. “In my background, I was trained to fight and I had the drive to fight and I think that was truly God-given.”