COLLIERVILLE, Tennessee (AP) – A gunman who killed one and injured 14 others at a Tennessee grocery store did not appear to target anyone in particular as he lashed out in the building on a sunny Thursday afternoon , police said. The entire filming was completed within minutes when first responders invaded the stage.
Some of the injured were still in critical condition on Friday and fighting for their lives, Collierville Police Chief Dale Lane said at a morning press conference.
Still, the outcome could have been worse, he said. The shooter died of a gunshot wound he apparently inflicted on himself within minutes of police arriving, and they arrived almost immediately at the Kroger in the affluent suburb outside Memphis.
The shooter acted on his own and was a third-party supplier to the store who was on site daily, Lane said. He was later identified by Major David Townsend as UK Thang. Police raided his home on Thursday and removed the electronics, Lane said.
“We all want to know why,” Lane said of the shooter’s motive. “But today, less than 24 hours, we are not ready to tell you.”
The victims included 10 employees and five customers.
Lane identified the woman who was killed as Olivia King. Friends told The Commercial Appeal that she was a widow with three children.
On Facebook, one of King’s sons, Wes King, posted an article about his mother’s death. He wrote that he spoke to the trauma surgeon and learned that his mother had been shot in the chest.
“They tried to save her in the hospital to no avail,” he wrote. “I apologize for the graphic details, but this type of crime must stop being glossed over and sanitized. No one deserves this. “
Kroger’s employee Brignetta Dickerson told WREG-TV she was working on a cash register when she heard what she initially thought were balloons popping.
“And, here he comes right behind us and started shooting,” Dickerson said. “And, he continued to shoot, to shoot, to shoot. He shot one of my colleagues in the head and one of my clients in the stomach.
Lane said police received a call around 1:30 p.m. about the shooting and arrived almost immediately, finding several people with gunshot wounds as they entered the building.
He said a team of SWAT police and other officers went from one aisle to another to grab panicked people from the hiding place and take them out safely. He said the shooter was male but did not identify him further.
“We found people hiding in freezers, in locked offices. They were doing what they were trained to do: run, hide, fight, ”said the chief.
Dickerson, the employee, said her colleague, who is in her 20s, was shot in the head but was able to ask him to notify her mother.
“I left him a voicemail message indicating he was alert and speaking,” said Dickerson, unable to reach her immediately.
Another employee, Glenda McDonald, described the chaotic scene to WHBQ-TV.
“I was walking back to the floral department and heard a gunshot,” she said. “It looked like it came from the charcuterie. And I ran through the front door and they had already shot at the front door.
Jason Lusk, 39, had just left a tool store next to Kroger when he heard women screaming in the parking lot about a gunman. He did not see the shooter, but heard 10 to 15 shots in rapid succession at the grocery store.
“It looked like they were directly over my head,” he said, adding that he could feel the concussion with every hit and knew the weapon was powerful. Even at a distance of around 40 meters, he said, he feared he and others around him were in grave danger.
“As the shooting started, I dove in front of my vehicle on the ground to cover myself as much as possible and asked people around me to panic, to try to get in the cars, not to get in. in their cars, but to actually hide, “he said.
Then the police arrived within minutes and “they invaded this place,” Lusk said. He added that he used his phone to record at least two of the shooter’s last shots and then a final shot on his last SWAT team recording at the scene.
In a further briefing afterwards, Lane called it a sad day for his department.
“I have been involved in this field for 34 years and have never seen anything like it,” he said.
Collierville is a growing suburb of more than 51,000 people with a median household income of about $ 114,000, according to US Census figures. Located in a rural and historic district, the town square is widely known for its shops and guest houses.
Earlier this year, Tennessee became the last state to allow most adults 21 and older to carry handguns without first completing a background check and state-level training. The measure was enacted by Republican Gov. Bill Lee over objections from some law enforcement groups and gun control advocates over concerns that the measure would lead to more gun violence.
The Cincinnati, Ohio-based Kroger Co. issued a statement saying it was “deeply saddened” by the shooting and was cooperating with law enforcement. The company asked its customers in 2019 not to openly carry firearms when visiting its stores.
A spokesperson for Kroger said the Collierville store will be closed until further notice.
The lights were still on in the store after dark on Thursday, with chrysanthemums standing in front of it. The parking lot, completely cordoned off with police tape, was still full of cars, with a strong police presence. Nearby businesses, including a fast food restaurant and an auto parts store, have been closed.
Mattise reported from Nashville. Associated Press editor Carrie Antfinger in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and news researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York City contributed to this report.