Shopper struck by stun gun in New Tampa Walmart

Published Jan. 5, 2012

TAMPA — Police want to talk to two women who may have shocked a shopper with a stun gun on New Year's Day inside a New Tampa Walmart.

The 61-year-old Tampa woman was walking down the aisle of the Walmart on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard when she "felt a jolt" in her back, said Laura McElroy, a spokeswoman for the Tampa Police Department.

Concerned, the woman called her daughters, who rushed to the store and discovered two small marks on her back consistent with being shocked by a stun gun, McElroy said.

The woman and her daughters contacted store security, which in turn called Tampa police.

On a store surveillance video, officers saw two women walking down the aisle past the woman and then turning around and passing her again "as if they were targeting her," McElroy said.

The video does not show the shopper being stunned.

The daughters asked authorities if the attack qualified as a hate crime because their mother, who was born in Pakistan, was wearing a salwar, a traditional Middle Eastern, embroidered tunic.

"At this point we're working to identify the suspects to determine whether the offense meets the elements of a hate crime," McElroy said.

The two woman never spoke to the shopper and there was no overt confrontation involving her race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation — a key factor in proving a hate crime.

McElroy said the shopper could have been stunned for a multitude of reasons including attempted robbery, or road rage or mistaken identity.

"As it stands, we don't have the elements of a hate crime," McElroy said.