Sioux Falls, SD
Police are calling the 24-year-old manager of a Sioux Falls Cost Cutters a hero.
Police say Amanda Connors had warned one of her employees that 38-year-old Tyrone Smith was about to walk into the salon on Tuesday. When Connors started confronting Smith, he shot and killed her in the parking lot.
Tuesday’s events were the tragic culmination of an incident that actually started on Sunday night when Smith was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend and choking her after they got into an argument over cell phone records.
Smith went to court on Monday and his girlfriend took out a protection order against him and moved out of the house to a safe place. When Smith was released, he showed up at the only two places where he knew he would find his kids and his girlfriend on Tuesday, their day care and Cost Cutters.
And Connors was tragically caught in the middle.
Police say Connors knew there could be trouble when she saw Smith walking up to the Cost Cutters on 41st Street with his two young children on Tuesday. That's why Connors called inside the store as she was leaving the strip mall to warn Smith's girlfriend that he was coming.
"As she left the store and was walking to her vehicle she had seen Tyrone and the children in the parking lot," Sioux Falls Police Captain Greg VandeKamp said.
Smith had just come from the child's day care where he bound the day care provider with zip ties, took the battery out of her cell phone and then took his seven-week-old and 17-month-old children at gunpoint.
Smith wasn't supposed to be there because of the protection order had just been taken out against him.
He wasn't supposed to show up to Cost Cutters and contact his girlfriend either because of the order, but as he walked in the door of the store, Connors, who is the manager, pulled up to the front door in her car and confronted him.
"There were words exchanged between Amanda and the suspect at which time the suspect fired a single shot from that location striking Amanda and causing her to accelerate and end up hitting the other two vehicles," VandeKamp said.
Connors died in the car of a gun shot wound to the head.
Smith then went inside and fired another round in the store where his children, girlfriend and three other employees were. One of the rounds grazed an employee's leg. Smith then bound them with zip ties for about 20 minutes before he decided to release them and killed himself.
The four Cost Cutters employees, including Smith’s girlfriend and his children, were able to leave unharmed.
Police consider Connors a hero because she was trying to protect her employees.
"I kind of see her as a hero because she called into the store, notified the mother, let them know what was going on and basically got herself in a position where she was at the wrong place at the wrong time," Sioux Falls Police Chief Doug Barthel said.
Barthel says they’ll never know what goes through the mind of someone like Smith but he doesn't believe he intended to kill Connors on Tuesday. Instead, it was just a tragic turn of events when she got involved in a dispute between her employee and Smith.
Click on the video player below to watch Capt. Greg VandeKamp and Chief Doug Barthel talk about the events.