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Man accused of killing Dollar Tree employee told police he was upset over item exchange, court docs say

Dollar Tree Jasmine Bennett.png
Jasmine Bennett.png
Posted at 12:21 PM, May 10, 2023

LAWRENCE — The man accused of killing a cashier at the Dollar Tree in Lawrence told investigators he was angry at her because she had refused to do an item exchange for him a few weeks earlier.

Police sayJasmine Bennett was working inside the store when she was shot multiple times. She was rushed to the hospital where she later died.

Jalen Thomas, 21, was arrested by police a short time after the shooting and has been formally charged with murder by the Marion County Prosecutor's office.

According to court documents Thomas was a former employee of the store. He first told investigators that he was angry at Bennett's mother, who was the manager at another Dollar Tree store, because she had promised him hours and then changed her mind. Thomas then told them that Bennett had refused to do a merchandise exchange for him and it made him angry so he purchased a handgun shortly after.

Another employee inside the store told detectives that Thomas walked into the store and confronted Bennett saying "do you have a problem with me?" before he opened fire, shooting her several times, according to court documents. She said Thomas then ran from the store.

The manager working that day told detectives that Thomas had been fired from the store in March for stealing and that he had returned at least two other times causing problems, according to court documents. She said Bennett had paged her to warn her that Thomas was inside the store, but she did not see him.

After viewing surveillance, speaking to witnesses and gathering information about the vehicle that fled the scene detectives tracked Thomas to a home in Lawrence where he was taken into custody.

"She wasn't even supposed to be at work that day. She went in to cover someone else's shift,” Bennett's brother, Michael, told WRTV. "There is no answer for something like this. There's no words you can come up with to describe the way you feel when this type of stuff happens. Losing someone like that it’s going to be a detrimental thing in all of our lives. We lost something precious to us. It’s hard for me to accept that she’s gone."