Collierville, Tenn. — A gunman attacked a grocery store in a Tennessee suburb on Thursday afternoon, killing one person and injuring 12 others before he was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at the store Gone, the officials said.
Collierville Police Chief Dale Lane said the shooting took place at a Kroger grocery in Collierville, a suburban community 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Memphis. He said the gunman shot 13 other people and himself, and 12 of the victims were taken to hospitals, some with very serious injuries.
Kroger worker Brigetta Dickerson told WREG-TV that she was working at a cash register when she first heard what she thought were balloons bursting.
“And, here he comes right behind us and starts shooting,” Dickerson said. “And, he kept shooting, shooting, shooting. He shot one of my coworkers in the head and one of my clients in the stomach.”
Lane said police received a call about the shooting at 1:30 p.m. and arrived almost immediately after seeing several people with gunshot wounds upon entering the building.
He said a police SWAT team and other officials went into the corridor to hide the panicked people and get them out safely. He said the shooter, whom he described as a male, was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“We found people hiding in freezers, in closed offices. They were doing what they were trained to do: run, hide, fight,” said the chief.
The identities of the shooter and victims were not immediately released. Lane declined to reveal more about the suspect at a news briefing Thursday evening, citing an ongoing investigation and search warrant.
“We’re taking this thing as far as we can and to make sure no one else is involved,” Lane said, adding that there was “no credible evidence” that there was a second shooter.
The chief also said that, “As far as we know, there was no other incident that would have caused this.”
The employee, Dickerson, said her coworker, who is in her 20s, had been shot in the head and asked her mother to notify.
“I left him a voicemail that he was alert and talking,” Dickerson said, unable to reach him immediately.
Another employee, Glenda McDonald, described the chaotic scene to WHBQ-TV.
“I was on my way back to the flower department and I heard a gunshot,” she said. “It looked like it was coming from the deli. And I ran out the front door and they had already shot the front door.”
Jason Lusk, 39, was walking out of a tool store next to Kroger when he heard some women shouting about a shooter in the parking lot. He did not see the gunman, but heard 10 to 15 rounds of gunfire at the grocery store rapidly.
“It looked like they were directly over my head,” he said, adding that he could feel the tremors of every shot and knew the weapon was powerful. Even at a distance of about 40 yards, he said, he worried that he and others around him were in grave danger.
“As the firing began, I dove to the ground in front of my vehicle to provide the most cover for myself and panicked people around me, trying to get into the cars, not getting into their cars. for, but actually instructed to hide.” He spoke.
Then the police arrived within minutes and “they surrounded the place,” Lusk said. He said he used his phone to record at least two of the gunman’s final shots, and then one final gunshot on his last recording of the SWAT team at the scene.
In a new briefing later, Police Chief Lane described it as a sad day for his department.
“I’ve been involved in this for 34 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
The suspect’s vehicle was in the parking lot of the store and remained part of the investigation, the chief said, adding that investigators were trying to determine how the incidents unfolded.
“Let’s get through the investigation,” Lane said. “Remember, we are two hours away from the most horrific event in Collierville’s history.”
According to US Census data, Collierville is a growing suburb of over 51,000 people with a median household income of approximately US$114,000. Situated in a rural and historic area, the Town Square is largely known for its boutiques and bed and breakfasts.
Earlier this year, Tennessee became the latest state to allow most adults age 21 and older to carry a handgun without approving state-level background checks and training. The measure was signed by Republican Governor Bill Lee over objections from some law enforcement groups and gun control advocates, the measure could potentially lead to more gun violence.
The Kroger Company, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, issued a statement saying it was “deeply saddened” by the shooting and was cooperating with law enforcement. In 2019, the company had asked its customers not to walk into its stores with guns in the open.
A Kroger spokesperson said the Collierville store will be closed until further notice.
Even after nightfall, there was light in the shop, chrysanthemum was in front. The parking lot, which was completely closed with police tape, was still full of cars, with a heavy police presence. Neighboring businesses, including a fast food restaurant and an auto parts store, were closed.
Mattis reported from Nashville. Associated Press writer Carrie Antfinger in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and news researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.