COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — A gunman opened fire inside a grocery store in Collierville, Tenn., on Thursday, killing one person and injuring at least 12 others as panicked employees and customers ran for safety, hiding in freezers and locked offices, the authorities said.
The authorities said they received a report of a shooting at 1:30 p.m. inside a Kroger store in a bustling commercial area of Collierville, about 30 miles east of Memphis, that is dotted with shopping centers and restaurants.
Officers soon flooded the store, going from aisle to aisle and room to room, helping injured victims and escorting employees out of hiding. One worker who was on the roof was brought to safety.
“They were doing what they had been trained to do — run, hide, fight,” Dale Lane, the Collierville police chief, said at a news conference. The training, he added, “saved people’s lives today.”
The gunman was found in the back of the store, and was believed to have been killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Chief Lane said. The man’s vehicle was still in the parking lot, he said.
A spokeswoman for the town of Collierville, Jennifer Casey, said the gunman had been employed by a “third-party vendor of Kroger” but she declined to share the name of the vendor.
Chief Lane would not say what type of weapon the man had used, saying it was part of the investigation. He said the injuries to the victims were “very serious.”
The shooting was “the most horrific event that has occurred in Collierville history,” he said.
Forty-four employees were inside the store when the gunman began shooting, turning a typical afternoon of shopping and working into a scene of bloodshed and terror.
Brignetta Dickerson, who said she had worked at the Kroger for 32 years, told local reporters that she was at a cash register when she heard gunshots.
She said she ran with several co-workers and customers to the back of the store and into a receiving area for deliveries. But the gunman “came right behind us and started shooting and kept on shooting, shooting, shooting,” Ms. Dickerson told WREG-TV.
An employee was shot in the head and a customer was shot in the stomach, she said. The man who was shot in the head was in his 20s, and asked Ms. Dickerson to call his mother, she told WREG. Ms. Dickerson said she called but was unable to reach her.
“My only concern was my co-workers and my customers,” Ms. Dickerson said, adding that she told the people who were with her, “Just sit down and relax and you’ll be OK.”
Wes King posted on Facebook that his mother, Olivia King, had died in the shooting. She was shot in the chest and died at a hospital, he said, after CPR was unsuccessful.
“I apologize for the graphic details, but this type of crime needs to stop being glossed over and sanitized,” Mr. King wrote. “No one deserves this.”
A neighbor of Ms. King’s, Aahil Shermohammed, said he would never forget her smile.
“She was always checking up on me for no reason — and it was always nice when you’re having a bad day to have someone like that smile at you,” he said.
Regional One Health, a hospital in Memphis, received four patients in critical condition and five in “noncritical condition,” a spokeswoman said. Baptist Memorial Hospital in Collierville received one patient, who was discharged, and Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis received two, according to a spokeswoman.
Chief Lane said at an evening news conference that one victim was in surgery and one was in an intensive care unit.
Kroger said in a statement that it was “deeply saddened by the incident” and was cooperating with local law enforcement officials. The store will remain closed while the police investigation continues, the company said.
The shooting sent shock waves through Collierville, a suburb of about 51,000.
Local news stations showed a line of ambulances at the store with their lights flashing, as well as a group of employees gathered in the parking lot. Some stood in a circle, praying.
“Lives have been lost and there is no making sense of that,” said Deborah Suddarth, the senior pastor of Collierville United Methodist Church, a congregation just down the road from the store. “It is painful.”
She said the shooting happened at a moment when the community was already mourning people who had died of Covid-19. Her predecessor as senior pastor was killed by the virus several months ago.
The shooting also came about six months after a gunman opened fire inside a King Soopers grocery store, which is owned by Kroger, in Boulder, Colo. Ten people, including a police officer, were killed in that attack.
“No one in any part of Memphis or America should have to face violence at work or in their community,” Marc Perrone, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents Kroger employees, said in a statement. “And we, as a nation, must do more to prevent these acts of violence.”
Laura Kebede contributed reporting from Collierville. Alyssa Lukpat, Neil Vigdor and Sophie Kasakove also contributed reporting.
Brignetta Dickerson knew the popping sound she heard on Thursday inside the Kroger grocery store where she worked was a gunshot, as she yelled at customers to “Go! Go! Go!”
As they ran to the back of the store in Collierville, Tenn., a Memphis suburb, the sounds followed, Ms. Dickerson told Region 8 News, a television station in the area.
“I heard him come to the back,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap.’”
They watched, she said, as the gunman shot one of her co-workers in the head and a customer in the stomach. At least 13 people were injured, one fatally, in the shooting, and the police said the…
Read More: Kroger Shooting: Gunman Kills 1 and Wounds 12 in Tennessee Store