Two Walmart employees were “senselessly murdered” and a police officer was wounded in a shooting Tuesday morning in northern Mississippi, authorities said.
The suspect, whose name has not been released, opened fire about 6:30 a.m. at a Walmart store in Southaven, a city just south of the Tennessee border, according to the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department. His motive was not immediately clear, but multiple local news outlets reported that he’s a disgruntled employee who was recently fired or suspended.
Cops were on the scene within minutes and exchanged gunfire with the man in the parking lot, Chief Deputy Macon Moore told reporters at a news conference late Tuesday morning. One of the officers was shot, but he was saved by his bulletproof vest and was being treated at an area hospital.
Moore said the suspect was shot twice and was also taken to a hospital, where he was expected to undergo surgery.
Police did not release any information about the victims as their families were still being notified. One of the victims was found dead inside the store and another was in the parking lot, according to FOX13.
“These people were doing the same thing you and I do everyday — showing up for work in an attempt to provide for their families — and then became victims of a senseless violent act,” Moore said.
A man who identified himself as Nicholas Gales told the Associated Press that one of the victims was his brother, Brandon Gales. Employees identified the other victim as a manager.
The chief told reporters that the entire Southaven Police Department underwent an active shooter training at a local school just two weeks ago.
“There’s no doubt that training saved lives today,” he said.
Greg Foran, president and CEO for Walmart’s U.S. stores, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon.
“The entire Walmart family is heartbroken by the loss of two valued members of our team,” the statement reads. “We feel tragedies like this personally, and our hearts go out to the families of our two associates and the officer who was injured. We are relieved the suspect was apprehended, and we appreciate the quick response of the local authorities and our associates.”
Moore said a bomb squad assisted in the investigation because a suspicious package was found inside the store. The first 911 calls also reported a fire in the building, but it was not immediately clear if there was anything other than gunshots.
Authorities said the investigation was still “very fluid” and they planned to provide an update later on Tuesday.
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