SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (AP) — A gunman fatally shot two people and wounded a police officer before he was shot and arrested Tuesday at a Walmart in northern Mississippi, authorities said.
The gunman was shot by a Southaven Police officer and was hospitalized in unknown condition, DeSoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco told WATN-TV.
Both of the people who died Tuesday morning were Walmart employees, WREG-TV reported. One person was found dead in the store and another found dead in the parking lot, WHBQ-TV reported.
Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto tells WATN-TV the officer was hit in his bulletproof vest and not seriously injured.
For customers and bystanders, the shooting turned a sleepy early morning into a panic at the Walmart Supercenter in Southaven, a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee.
Carlos Odom, 35, said he usually comes to the Walmart to visit his cousin, who works there, and was leaving at about 6:30 a.m. when he heard more than a dozen shots.
“I just hear gunshots,” Odom said. “Pow. Pow. Pow. Pow. Pow.”
“When the cops run into the Walmart, you hear more gunshots,” Odom said. “After that, it stopped.”
Odom said he ran out into the parking lot and later spoke by phone with his cousin, who told him one of the victims was an employee, and the gunman worked there as well.
Phil Cox, 70, said had just bought some nasal spray and was in the parking lot when he thought he heard a gunshot, and then saw a man run into the store. He got into his truck to leave as police began arriving.
“Everything went crazy at that point,” Cox said, expressing sympathy for employees. “It’s just hard to believe what happened here, but it seems like it’s happening everywhere.”
The Walmart is in a large shopping complex at a busy exit off Interstate 55 in Southaven, a suburb of 55,000 people which lies just south of the state line from Memphis, Tennessee. A massive police presence surrounded the store Tuesday morning, with a large part of the parking lot blocked off by yellow crime tape. Reporters saw employees gather in a circle and pray after the shooting, as police continued to swarm the scene.
“We’re still gathering details ourselves on everything that has happened,” Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said Tuesday morning.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company is assisting law enforcement, and plans to release a statement later, he said.
A woman answering the phone at the Southaven Police Department Tuesday morning said “we have ongoing emergencies” and no one was available to provide information.
Associated Press writers Jeff Amy in Jackson, Mississippi; and Jeff Martin in Atlanta contributed.