Woman Handing Out Samples at Va. Costco Shot Dead by Police After Acting Strangely

Police tried to subdue her with stun gun, then shot her

The family of a woman fatally shot while handing out samples at Costco is questioning the use of deadly force against their loved one.

The melee began at about 3 p.m. Wednesday, when store employees noticed 38-year-old Mhai Scott acting oddly while handing out pizza samples, said Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman.

Scott reportedly became upset when she ran out of pizza, reported Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey. Witnesses said she was waving a knife and scissors, threatening employees.

Deputies were called to the store to handle the disturbance. After they arrived, Scott -- who worked for a company that handles sampling at Costco stores -- approached the officers with the sharp items, authorities said.

One deputy tried to use a stun gun on Scott, but Chapman said the stun gun "did not work," and another deputy fatally shot her.

A sheriff's deputy also was wounded in the leg by a ricocheting bullet. The injury was not life-threatening.

Only one deputy fired shots, Chapman said. Both deputies were placed on paid administrative leave.

Relatives of Mhai Scott are gathering in Loudoun County to grieve and make arrangements. Other family members, including her mother and sister, are in mourning in the Philippines, Scott's homeland. Her ex-husband, who is in the U.S. military, just returned to the Sterling area to join relatives.

Scott's mother and sister told Philippine television station ABS-CBN News she was the mother of two girls, aged 8 and 12. In the Filipino TV story, Scott's sister says she had an ongoing dispute with her ex-husband over the custody of their two girls.

Her sister said she had spoken to Scott about an hour prior to the shooting and didn't think anything was wrong.

The following statement was submitted Thursday by the Philippine Embassy regarding the shooting:

"The Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines extends its deepest sympathy to the family of Mylene De Leon Scott, a member of the Filipino-American Community, who was shot dead by police officers responding to a reported disturbance inside the Costco Wholesale Store in Sterling, Virginia, on Wednesday, 29 May 2013.

The Embassy stands ready to extend its assistance to the family of Ms. Scott. We will continue to coordinate with police authorities in Loudoun County to secure more information on this case. We share the concerns expressed by Ms. Scott's family in the Philippines and the members of the Filipino-American Community that law enforcement officials may have responded with disproportionate force. We request authorities to conduct a thorough, impartial and expeditious investigation of the incident."

The Costco Warehouse Store is located at 21398 Price Cascades Plaza in Loudoun County, Va. It reopened at 10 a.m. Thursday. No samples were being handed out.

Nora Lateef said she was at the food court in the store when she saw three deputies rush into the store and head toward the employee lounge, asking, "Where is Linda?"

Soon, Lateef said, she heard five shots and the store was evacuated. They were saying "Everybody out of the store! Out of the store!" Lateef said.

Shopper Elizabeth Avelar told News4 she believes she had contact with Scott prior to the shooting. "The woman was very nice, very polite," Avelar said.

Avelar was later ushered out of the store following the incident.

"I had no idea whether somebody was being shot, if there was a bomb threat," Avelar said. "It was very difficult to get out of the parking lot -- people were honking their horns. It was frightening."

Chapman said Scott was an employee of Club Demonstration Services, Inc., a Costco subcontractor.

CDS President Don Dohanyos released a statement Wednesday:

"We are extremely saddened by the situation that occurred at the Costco warehouse in Sterling, Va., earlier today. We are treating this with the utmost sensitivity and are cooperating fully with the authorities as they gather more details on the events leading up to the shooting of our CDS associate. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was affected by this event."

CDS issued a new statement Thursday, saying Scott worked part-time for them since October 2012.

"She was a valued member of the team" and "a respected associate," the statement said.

Dohanyos said grief counselors are available to employees.


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