HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN) – The Sharon man who police say opened fire on an employee at the Hermitage Walmart on Route 18 was arraigned in Mercer County Court Friday morning.
Zachary Thomas McClimans, 22, is charged with two counts of attempted murder and aggravated assault, theft, having a firearm without a license and reckless engagement, in the shooting of an employee inside the store Thursday night.
Police say McClimans, who also works at Walmart, left work during his shift earlier in the day, came back later that night and shot his coworker four times.
Police started taking 911 calls around 10:30 p.m.
“Multiple calls, actually, was of shots fired inside the building with multiple people down,” said Hermitage Police Chief Eric Jewell.
As officers arrived, frantic customers and employees were running out of the Walmart.
Police found the victim, Jayson Hall, with four gunshot wounds inside the store.
Customers and employees told police the shooter was still at the store, directing them to the parking lot.
“Numerous people were directing officers to a vehicle in the parking lot. They were indicting that the shooter was in one of the vehicles,” Jewell said. “He was pointed out to us in a vehicle and the officers were told that was, in fact, the shooter.”
Officers approached the vehicle and found McClimans sitting inside, according to Jewell. Police say he had a gun with him, which was taken into evidence.
McClimans was arrested at the scene, where he surrendered to police.
While Hall was flown by medical helicopter to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown, McClimans was taken to the police station where papers filed in court Friday state he confessed to the crime.
According to detectives, McClimans told them he was in the process of transitioning genders and when he told his coworkers about it recently, Hall was offended, became enraged and started making threats.
Although McClimans said he filed a complaint with management and Walmart was investigating the threat, he said no action had been taken. He started thinking of how to keep Hall from hurting or threatening him.
McClimans admitted to stealing his grandfather’s pistol Thursday and going to the store to catch Hall at the end of his shift, but felt so strongly he couldn’t wait.
Police said McClimans told them he found Hall and started shooting, aiming to kill. Detectives said he added that after emptying the gun, he followed the victim into a back storage area so he could watch him fall.
Everyone inside the store was evacuated Thursday night and no other employees or customers were injured.
“There was some pandemonium, as would be expected. But overall, I think people evacuated the building and got customers out, got everybody to a safe area,” Jewell said.
Investigators remained at the store all night and into the morning hours of Friday, collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses. The scene was cleared about 4 a.m.
Jewell said several agencies responded to the scene, which helped to quickly secure the area. He issued the following statement Friday:
I commend my officers for a timely response, quick tactical thinking, coolness under extreme stress and tremendous courage. Numerous police departments from the Shenango Valley and beyond assisted with containment and search of the very large building, and interviewing witnesses and potential witnesses. Sharon police also assisted Hermitage detectives in processing the crime scene, interviewing witnesses and interviewing the victim. The Hermitage Fire Department assisted with area traffic control and coordinating the life-flight helicopter landing. The Mercer County District Attorney’s Office assisted Hermitage detectives with on-scene legal advice and direction.
McClimans’ bond was set at $500,000 and he is due back in court again later this month.
His victim is expected to survive and was in stable condition Friday.
Walmart officers would not comment on the shooting or the suspect’s complaints.
This story is corrected to show that McClimans left work earlier in the day, but did not quit.