Tennessee grocery store attack: “He kept firing”

COLLIERVILLE, TENN. “An armed man attacked a grocery store in an upscale suburb of Tennessee on Thursday afternoon, killing one person and injuring 12 others before he was found dead by an obvious self-inflicted gunshot wound to the store,” authorities said.

Collierville Police Chief Dale Lane said the shooting broke out at a Kroger grocery store in Collierville, a suburban community 50 miles (50 kilometers) east of Memphis. He said the gunman shot 13 others and himself and that 12 of the victims were taken to hospital, some with very serious injuries.

Kroger worker Brignetta Dickerson told WREG-TV that she was working at a cash register when she heard what she first thought were balloons that appeared.

“And here he comes right behind us and started firing,” Dickerson said. “And he kept shooting, shooting, shooting. He shot one of my co-workers in the head and shot one of my clients in the stomach.”

Lane said police received a call around 1:30 p.m. about the shooting and came almost immediately and found several people with gunshot wounds as they entered the building.

He said a police SWAT team and other police officers went in the hallway to pick up panicked people from hiding and take them out safely. He said the shooter, whom he described as a man, was found dead by an obvious self-inflicted shooting.

“We found people hiding in freezers, in locked offices. They did what they had been trained to run, hide, fight,” the boss said.

The identity of the shooter and the victims was not immediately released. Lane declined to reveal more about the suspect at a news briefing Thursday night, citing the ongoing investigation and keywords that will be conducted.

“We will carry this thing as far as we can to make sure there is no one else 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 led to this.”

Dickerson, the employee, said that her co-worker, who is in her 20s, was shot in the head and asked that his mother be notified.

“I left her a voice message that he was alert and talking,” Dickerson said, unable to reach her immediately.

Another contributor, Glenda McDonald, described the chaotic scene for WHBQ-TV.

“I went back to the flower department and I heard a shot,” she said. “It sounded like it was coming from the deli. And I ran out the front door and they had already pushed the front door.”

Jason Lusk, 39, had just left a tool shop next to Kroger when he heard some women shouting in the parking lot about a shooter. He did not see the shooter, but heard 10 to 15 rounds in quick succession in the grocery store.

“It sounded like they were right over my head,” he said, adding that he could feel a concussion from each 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 danger.

“When the firing started, I dove in front of my vehicle on the ground to provide the most protection for myself and instructed the people around me to panic, trying to get in the cars, not to get in their cars, but to actually hide, ” he said.

Then the police arrived within minutes and “they crowded that place,” Lusk said. He added that he used his phone to record at least two of the shooter’s last shots and then one last shot on his last recording of the SWAT team on the spot.

At a new briefing afterwards, Chief of Police Lane called it 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 store’s parking lot and remained part of the investigation, the manager said, adding that investigators were trying to determine how the events unfolded.

“Let’s get through the investigation,” Lane said. “Remember, we’re two hours away from the most horrific event in Collierville’s history.”

Collierville is a growing suburb of more than 51,000 people with a median household income of approximately $ 114,000, according to US census figures. Located in a rural and historic area, the square has largely become known for its shops and bed and breakfasts.

Earlier this year, Tennessee became the latest state to allow most adults 21 and older to carry weapons without first passing a state-level background check and education. The measure was signed into law by Republican Gov. Bill Lee over objections from certain law enforcement groups, and gun control advocates feared the measure might lead to more gun violence.

Kroger Co., based in Cincinnati, Ohio, issued a statement saying it was “deeply saddened” by the shooting and cooperated with law enforcement. The company in 2019 asked its customers not to openly carry weapons when they visited their stores.

A spokesman for Kroger said the Collierville store will be closed for the time being.

The candles were still lit in the store after the night, chrysanthemums sat in front. The parking lot, completely cordoned off with police tapes, was still full of cars, with a heavy police presence. Nearby businesses, including a fast food restaurant and a car dealership, were closed.

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Mattise reported from Nashville. Associated Press author Carrie Antfinger of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and New York News researcher Jennifer Farrar contributed to this report.

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