Police: 1 killed, 2 wounded in shooting at NY grocery store
West Hempstead, N.Y. – An employee suspected of shooting three workers at an office inside a Long Island grocery store Tuesday, killing a manager, was arrested hours after fleeing, police said.
Gabriel DeWitt Wilson, 31, was taken into custody around 3:15 p.m. at an apartment building about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the store, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. Information on charges and a lawyer who could speak on Wilson’s behalf wasn’t immediately available.
The shooting happened around 11:15 a.m. inside offices upstairs from the shopping floor at the Stop & Shop supermarket in West Hempstead, Ryder said.
Wilson, a shopping cart wrangler at the store, went to the offices immediately after arriving for work, wounding a man and a woman in one room before going down the hall and killing a 49-year-old store manager, Ryder said.
There were about a “couple hundred” shoppers inside the store at the time, he said.
“They told us to just run and get out, and that’s what we did,” shopper Laura Catanese told News 12 Long Island.
Barbara Butterman told Newsday she heard four or five shots while shopping for produce, initially thinking the sound was something falling in the back storeroom.
“Everyone was running around upstairs where offices were,” Butterman told the newspaper.
The name of the victims have not been made public. The two wounded were hospitalized and were conscious and alert.
Wilson has a criminal record and had been taken into custody previously in Nassau County for a mental health evaluation, Ryder said.
Wilson was involved in a shooting in Baltimore seven years to the day before Tuesday’s supermarket shooting, records show. According to police, Wilson and another man fired shots at each other and were hospitalized with lower body wounds. Attempted murder charges against Wilson in that case were later dropped, records show.
Wilson was wearing all black and carrying a small handgun as he fled westbound on Hempstead Turnpike, Ryder told reporters at a news conference. He was arrested after officers – many in tactical gear and carrying long guns – converged on a neighborhood in nearby Hempstead, which is east of the grocery store.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told News that the shooting was “one of the most serious incidents we’ve had in a very, very long time.”
The shooting in West Hempstead followed a rash of recent mass shootings across the county, including one on March 22 that left 10 people dead at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado.
Video of the aftermath of the shooting showed police cars and ambulances parked in front of the store, officers with long guns and yellow crime scene tape draped across the entrance.
Curran said nearby schools have been told not to admit visitors and residents were asked to remain indoors.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was directing state police to assist local police.
“I’m praying for the victims, and my heart breaks for their families and loved ones,” Cuomo said in a statement.
West Hempstead is near the New York City-Nassau County border and about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of midtown Manhattan.
Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid said in a statement that the company is “shocked and heartbroken by this act of violence” and that the West Hempstead store will remain closed until further notice.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims, our associates, customers and the first responders who have responded heroically to this tragic situation,” Reid said.
Stop & Shop is a grocery chain in the northeastern U.S. owned by the Dutch company Ahold Delhaize.