CHUBBUCK, Idaho - A police-involved shooting Thursday that left a suspect dead could have been worse if not for the quick thinking of a Petco employee, police said in a news conference Friday.
Around 8:30 p.m., police were involved in a high speed chase of Bradley Allen Wilson, 30.
The chase was the result of a welfare check in Pocatello, officials said. The request for a welfare check came from Wilson's mother, who had become concerned after conversations and texts with her son. His cell phone carrier aided police in tracking Wilson's phone.
Police found Wilson in a convenience store parking lot across from Idaho State University. He brandished a weapon and sped away.
At the news conference, Chubbuck Police Chief Randy Severe said officers from various agencies chased Wilson, although the pursuit was called off a few times due to public safety concerns.
An Idaho State Police trooper saw Wilson's car go over an embankment near Highway 30 in the area of the west Pocatello interchange near Simplot. The trooper assumed the driver had crashed. By the time the trooper was able to get to the embankment, he could not find Wilson and his car.
Shortly thereafter, police got a call from someone at Petco, saying a person was there with a gun.
Severe said Wilson had parked his car in the Pine Ridge Mall area. Wilson went into the Petco store, looking for another mode of transportation, as his had become "fairly inoperable."
He took an 18-year-old high school student hostage.
"(Wilson) said in essence, 'You're going with me. You're going to drive,'" said Severe.
Severe said Wilson emerged from the store with the hostage. Behind him, a Petco worker locked the door to the store.
"There were several people in the store," said Severe. "One was a fellow with a little girl. Once Mr. Wilson had left the store with the hostage, this (worker) had the presence of mind, despite what was going on, to shut the front doors and lock them so they couldn't get back in. At one point, Mr. Wilson actually tried to get back in the store. Had he gone back in there with several other people (inside), who knows where it would have gone after that? We're just grateful that a lot of good common sense was used here."
Police had earlier said the worker was the night manager. However, Petco Animal Supplies Inc. told Local News 8 that he was not in management and had been with the store five months.
Police said Wilson had the gun at the teen's head, as well as his own.
A Bannock County deputy determined the hostage was in imminent danger and shot Wilson, killing him.
"He took into consideration the hostage and the hostage's safety and the safety of the public. It was a very public place," said Sheriff Lorin Nielsen. "He felt that he had a very clear shot, and he took that shot, and we were able to have this situation taken care of."
The teen was not physically hurt, but Severe said he was "very genuinely terrified" and was taken care of by Pocatello police officers.
Wilson's body has been taken to Boise, where it will undergo an autopsy. Official cause of death and a toxicology report will later be released. The Associated Press reported that Wilson was shot in the neck, but officials will not confirm that was the cause of his death until the autopsy has been completed.
An investigation into the incident will be conducted by Blackfoot and Bingham County law enforcement. The deputy who shot Wilson has been relieved of duty, as prescribed by department policy, during the investigation. Steve Herzog, the Bannock County prosecutor, said he would pass on the findings to another prosecutor's office in Idaho. Officials said agencies involved in the shooting did not want to influence or appear to influence the investigation in any way.
The Bannock County Sheriff's Office, Chubbuck and Pocatello police departments, and Search and Rescue units all responded.