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Witness recounts shooting, undercover operation in Walmart parking lot

The shooting of a suspected drug trafficker happened Monday night at Walmart in Holly Springs.

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — Katie Padgett just finished her break Monday night, as she headed back into the deli at the Walmart in Holly Springs. Moments later, chaos broke out and she witness the response from law enforcement.

“I had seen caution tape, eight or nine cops," Padgett said. "It was really scary to find out what happened. Anybody could have come in with a gun and shot the place. Anything can happen.”

The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office said a multi-agency narcotics squad went undercover and around 7:30 p.m. Monday, they tried to arrest a man suspected of trafficking heroin and fentanyl in the parking lot. The Sheriff's Office said the man got into his vehicle and drove at agents, ramming one of their vehicles. Law enforcement then shot the man, who continued to drive onto the I-575 exit ramp, hit two cars and was later taken to the hospital where he later died. The Sheriff's Office said no one else was hurt in the incident.

Retired Fulton County Deputy Charles Rambo said it's not unusual to see an undercover operation during broad daylight, even in a public place. 

"Crime will take you anywhere any time of the day or night, especially in this hybrid area of criminal activity where most of your criminals are trying to operate three thoughts and three steps ahead us," Rambo said. 

RELATED: Man killed after undercover operation unfolds in Cherokee County Walmart parking lot, deputies say

Undercover work can take a long time to conduct, Rambo said, and he narrowed the focus when doing so to three areas: opportunity, ability and jeopardy.

"What opportunities will you gain while undercover in order to get the type of intelligence you’ll need?" Rambo posed. "What is the ability you have to get it and do it very safely? What danger or harm will you be exposing yourself to or others?”

READ: Authorities announce dismantling of meth operation worth $1.75M run by 3 different gangs

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is taking over the case, said Monday's shooting at Walmart marked the 60th police shooting in Georgia they had investigated this year. According to GBI data, shootings involving police are up over 46 percent since last year.

Meantime, Katie Padgett admitted to being scared after the shooting at her workplace. However, she said employees are banding together to keep each other safe.

“I’m a little scared, but we have everybody in here, all the workers and managers will keep us safe," Padgett said. “We watch out for each other, and if we see something suspicious or something like that, we let each other know.”


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