Authorities believe the man who shot and killed a woman her grandchild inside a Publix grocery store in Florida may have known the victims.
WASHINGTON — A man fatally shot a woman her grandson inside a Florida supermarket Thursday before killing himself, authorities said, causing dozens to flee the store in panic.
The shooting happened shortly after 11:30 a.m. at a Publix located in a strip mall that also houses small shops and restaurants.
Detectives are reviewing security video and talking to witnesses, said Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Teri Barbera. She said investigators believe the shooter and the victims may have known each other. No names have been released.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that the woman and child were related – the one-year-old boy was the woman’s grandson. Their identities will not be released, according to Palm Beach County Sheriffs, as the family has invoked Marsy’s Law, which protects the identities of crime victims.
According to reports from both WPTV West Palm Beach and WPLG, officials have identified the gunman as Timothy J. Wall, 55, of Royal Palm Beach. Sheriffs maintain they have not found any connection between the gunman and the victims.
Juan Guardia told the Palm Beach Post he was in the deli area when the shooting happened in the produce aisle.
“I heard, ‘They’re shooting!’ A woman Publix worker said, ‘Run! Shooting!’” Guardia said. “I was scared. It’s sad because everything happened fast. Everyone was running, some employees were crying.”
Ron Glassman, a stress management consultant, had just parked his car and was heading to another shop when about 50 customers and employees in small clusters came running out of the Publix yelling, “There’s a shooter, there’s a shooter. Don’t go in there.”
“It was pretty chaotic. People were very shaken,” Glassman said.
He said armed sheriff’s deputies wearing helmets and bulletproof vests arrived about five minutes later.
Publix, in a statement, said, “Our thoughts are with those who are impacted by this tragedy.” The company added that it is cooperating with law enforcement but declined further comment. Publix is Florida’s largest grocery chain and has more than 1,200 stores in the Southern United States.
Royal Palm Beach is a middle-class suburb of 40,000 residents, about 15 miles inland from Palm Beach.
Spencer reported from Fort Lauderdale.