MILLCREEK — Shelby Hamilton’s first thought as she lay bruised and bleeding on the ground of a Millcreek Starbucks was that she didn’t want to die this way. It would be a painful way to go.
It all began while Hamilton was working an early morning shift at the coffee shop near 3900 South and 900 East Thursday morning. Hamilton was standing behind the counter when a “haggard-looking” man entered, she said.
Instead of coming to the register to order, the man came behind the counter and asked Hamilton if she knew who he was. When she replied that she didn’t, he became angry and began beating her with his fists, she said.
“It was all just kind of random. I didn’t really know him. … He just came in the door and hit me in the back of the head from behind,” Hamilton told KSL.com.
She backed up and tried to put distance between herself and the man, but once she reached the end of the counter, she was trapped — and he continued hitting her. Hamilton’s co-workers, however, remained frozen, unsure what to do, she said.
“I started to think why no one was helping me, ‘cause he was only hitting me, and I felt kind of angry for a moment,” she said.
Before Hamilton had much time to ponder the question, however, the man picked up a metal supply basket and hit her on the side of the head. Hamilton crumpled, and the man continued kicking her in the back. The only thought left in her mind: "I don't want to die this way."
As soon as she fell to the ground, however, her co-workers ran out the door and began screaming for help. The next thing Hamilton knew, the man had stopped beating her and gone back around the counter.
Soon after, she heard a gunshot.
“The first thought in my head was that this had turned into a shooting,” she said. “My second thought was … he just shot my friends, and my third thought was … he’s going to come back here and shoot me.”
Hamilton said she crawled under the counter to hide from the would-be shooter, but it was the police that found her soon after. It was then she overheard on one of the officers’ radios that her attacker had been shot by a customer.
“My honest thought? I just hoped that he was dead,” she said.
Unified Police Lt. Ken Hansen confirmed later that the attacker was shot by a man in his late 60s who saw what was happening while visiting the shop for his morning coffee. The customer drew the man’s attention, and the attacker began to approach him.
As he came closer, the customer pulled out a gun and shot the attacker once in the chest, Hansen said. The man then stumbled out of the store.
Police arrived shortly after and used a Taser to take Benjamin Overall, 37, into custody. They then realized that Overall had been shot and summoned medical help for both Hamilton and Overall, Hansen said. Police believe Overall may have mental health issues, Hansen added.
Overall was transported to a hospital in serious condition — though he has since been upgraded to satisfactory. Hamilton was transported in fair condition, though she’s since been released — albeit with a black eye, swollen face, cuts and bruises covering her hands and back.
Hamilton is grateful, however, that she’s alive. And especially grateful for the man with a gun who she said is a frequent customer.
“I know his drink," she said. "He comes in every morning and gets a large, blonde coffee in his personal cup. He’s always been very sweet. He’s always been very patient.”
Hamilton was initially surprised, however, when she heard he had shot the attacker.
“I never would have expected that from him," she said. "He just seemed like a very meek guy. So I was surprised, but also very grateful. I was very grateful that he was there. And I was glad it was somebody we see regularly so that hopefully, in the future, I can thank him.”
The customer has a concealed carry permit, Hansen said, and, though he doesn’t know for sure if the customer will face charges, he believes the shooting can be interpreted as self-defense. The customer is being “very cooperative” with police, Hansen added.
“We are thankful all partners (employees) and customers are safe after going through such a terrifying experience," Starbucks said in an emailed statement. "Our focus is on supporting our partners at this time. We are grateful local authorities were there to help and would direct any further questions their way.”
In 2013, Starbucks made a request that customers not bring firearms into its stores or outdoor eating areas, but the company specified that it was a request and not an outright ban.
As for Hamilton, she’s just happy someone was there.
“I’m just really grateful to be alive, and I’m thankful for everyone who was there to help me,” she said.
Contributing: Derek Petersen, KSL TV and Peter Karabats, KSL Newsradio