Man suspected of stealing from Walmart, dies hours later

WFLA Web Staff - LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) -- The Polk County Medical Examiner is trying to figure out what caused the death of a 64-year-old shoplifting suspect after a chase outside of the Lakeland Walmart early Sunday morning.

Lakeland Police Department officers responded to a report of a shoplifter at the Walmart at 5800 N. Rd. 98 at 3:05 a.m. on Feb. 7.

While on their way to the store, officers received a second call from dispatchers saying the suspect was in custody, but was not breathing and CPR was being performed on him.

Investigators say Kenneth E. Wisham, 64, had put $380.74 worth of DVDs into a shopping cart and tried to leave the store with the shopping cart, but was confronted by employees.

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Wisham ran away and was chased by Walmart employees. Police say that during the chase, Wisham kept pulling his pants up, because they were falling down. At some point, Wisham fell to the ground and was detained by employees. At this time, employees discovered Wisham had stopped breathing and they began life-saving measures and called EMS.

A Lakeland police officer arrived and began using a defibrillator on Wisham. EMS crews arrived and continued CPR and transported him to Lakeland Regional Health in critical condition. Wisham was pronounced dead at 3:40 p.m. on Feb. 7.

Detectives with the Lakeland Police Department Violent Crimes Unit responded to Walmart to investigate Wisham's death and obtain sworn statements from witnesses.

The Medical Examiner is working to determine the cause of Wisham's death.

Wisham was a Lakeland resident. Online records show he was previously arrested on charges of burglary and grand theft in August of 2015.


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