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Botched Burien shoplifting suspects could face vehicular assault charges after van injures 11

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BURIEN, Wash. – Eleven people were hurt, including a 2-year-old boy, after police say a shoplifting attempt spiraled into a matter of life and death for shoppers.

King County Sheriff’s deputies say a van carrying a suspected shoplifter and getaway driver Lee Skelly plowed through a Ross Dress for Less store in Burien shortly after 9 p.m. Monday night.

Lee Skelly (DOL photo)

Three people are still recovering at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, including the 2-year-old boy, who was for a moment trapped in a stroller underneath that van. When medics arrived Monday night, he didn't have a pulse.

Seven more victims, including an infant, were sent to Highline Medical Center in Burien. Another victim was sent to Valley Medical Center. A King County Sheriff’s press release said those victims suffered bumps and bruises.

By Tuesday the store was boarded up and shards of glass littered the walkway. Clean-up crews spent most of the day securing the storefront while others swept debris and repaired damage inside.

“It’s unexpected,” said holiday shopper Jessica Horning. “The world’s not getting any safer or less crazy.”

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Surveillance video of the crash

Horning showed up to the store Tuesday to shop but couldn’t as it remained closed. She told Q13 News she was more concerned for the families injured during the crash Monday night.

“It could have been my kids too, and that’s really scary,” she said. “I don’t know how I’d react if something like that happened to me, right before the holidays. My kids are everything to me.”

King County Sheriff’s deputies say it all started when a shoplifting suspect ran out of the store and jumped into a white van. But Skelly somehow botched the getaway and instead swiped a parked car before careening forty feet into the busy store.

The alleged driver and the suspected shoplifter were both arrested at the scene, deputies say.

In July the same shopping center was the scene of a police shootout, a carjacking and a standoff all on the same day. Monday’s chaotic scene left witnesses concerned about crime in the area.

“I’m getting worried,” said witness Solomon Mendez. “Burien is getting really dangerous.”

Q13 News is not yet identifying the two suspects arrested Monday night as they have yet to be officially charged with a crime.

Skelly has one felony conviction for theft and a history of trafficking stolen property and driving on a suspended license. He could be charged with driving under the influence of drugs and vehicular assault for his alleged role in Monday’s incident.

The alleged shoplifter has seven previous arrests for theft dating back nearly ten years.

It’s likely both could be in court later this week.

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