Southaven, MS – A “disgruntled” Walmart employee fatally shot two coworkers and wounded a Southaven police officer on Tuesday morning.
The incident occurred at about 6:33 a.m. on July 30 at the Walmart Superstore located 6811 Southcrest Parkway, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.
Officers arrived on the scene of the store in the Memphis suburbs within three minutes of dispatchers receiving the 911 call and found the shooter in the store’s parking lot, according to NBC News.
A gun battle ensured between the suspect and two police officers.
Southaven Police Chief Macon Moore said one officer was struck in the vest by a bullet, and then the other officer shot the gunman, NBC News reported.
“One of our officers was shot at this time. He was saved by his vest,” Chief Moore told reporters at a press conference late on Tuesday morning. “At this point, the suspect was engaged by another officer. He was struck twice by gunfire from our officer. He was taken into custody.”
The suspect was transported to Regional One Medical Center and was in surgery on Tuesday afternoon, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.
The officer who was shot in the vest was transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital – DeSoto where he was joined by his family.
A spokeswoman for the hospital said the officer wasn’t injured.
“He was wearing a bullet proof vest. He was admitted as a precaution,” Ayoka Pond told the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite told reporters that he was proud of the response from law enforcement and called the shooter a “disgruntled” Walmart employee, NBC News reported.
“This is someone who had a personal grievance with his employer,” Musselwhite said. “That’s sad enough, but it’s not something the city should be alarmed about as far as being on top of the event.”
After the gunfight, police called in the bomb squad to examine a suspicious package, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
NBC News reported that officials said there 60 Walmart employees inside the store when the gunman began shooting.
Walmart Spokesman Casey Staheli said the company was still learning the details of what had happened and referred reporters’ questions to police, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.
“These people were doing the same thing that you and I do every day, showing up for work in an attempt to provide for their families, then became the victims of a senseless violent act,” Chief Moore said.
The police chief and the mayor said Southaven police and fire departments had conducted an active shooter drill only two weeks before the real thing occurred at the Walmart.
“The training we did paid off today,” Musselwhite said.
Witnesses described hearing gunshots in the Walmart parking lot, according to NBC News.
Seventy-year-old Phil Cox said he’d just left the store when he heard shots and saw the gunman running into the Walmart.
“We were within milliseconds of being very close to him, coming right at him, and maybe being in the line of fire,” Cox told NBC News.
He said that the whole thing happened too fast for him to be afraid.
“Now that we’ve had some time to think about it, it’s alarming we were that close,” Cox told NBC News.
Hours after the incident, streets surrounding the Southaven Walmart remained closed as police investigated the incident.
Authorities have not yet released the names of the gunman, his two victims, or the police officer who was shot in the vest.