2 dead, 2 wounded in shooting at Walmart in Southaven

Shooting at Walmart in Southaven | Photo: MGN Online

Updated Article - Two people are dead, and a police officer and the suspected shooter were wounded in Southaven.

Posted: Jul 31, 2019 9:50 AM

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (AP) — A gunman described as a disgruntled Walmart employee fatally shot two co-workers and wounded a police officer before he was shot and arrested Tuesday morning at a Walmart store in northern Mississippi, authorities said.

DeSoto County District Attorney John Champion said 39-year-old Martez Tarrell Abram shot a Southaven police officer, who was protected by a bulletproof vest and suffered minor injuries. Southaven Police Chief Macon Moore said a second Southaven officer shot Abram, who underwent surgery at a hospital in neighboring Memphis, Tennessee.


Martez Tarrell Abram

Both the people killed were Walmart employees, Moore said. Employees told The Associated Press that the first was shot in the parking lot, and the second was shot inside the store.

Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite described the suspect as a disgruntled worker with a grievance against his employer. Abram, a Southaven resident, had been suspended from the store in recent days after he showed a knife to a co-worker. A police report had been filed, but Champion said Abram didn't appear to have threatened the co-worker and criminal charges weren't being pursued.

"It wasn't an accident," said Travis Jones, an overnight stocker who was working when he heard shots. "He knew what he was doing when he came in there."

Jones said he saw the body of store manager Anthony Brown on the floor as they ran out of the store. "It was an ugly scene," he said. DeSoto County Coroner Joshua Pounders said the 40-year-old Brown, an Olive Branch resident, appears to have died from a gunshot wound.

Nicholas Gales said the other slain worker was his brother, 38-year-old Brandon Gales of Hernando. Jones called Brandon Gales his best friend and an "all-around good guy," saying he was the father of multiple children.

The shooting at about 6:30 a.m. brought a massive police response to the shopping complex, at a busy exit off Interstate 55 in Southaven, a suburb of 55,000 people.

"Our police really showed their guts today," Musselwhite said, noting Southaven officers recently undertook active shooter training, "If it hadn't been for their efforts there would have been more lives lost."

Carlos Odom, 35, had just made his usual visit to his cousin, who works at the Walmart on Tuesday, and said he was leaving 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."

Phil Cox, 70, said he had just bought some nasal spray and was in the parking lot when he thought he heard a gunshot, and then saw a man who may have been the shooter 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."

Champion said police had recovered multiple weapons and a vehicle and searched Abram's apartment. He said Abram had purchased guns legally, although he didn't describe them, and said Abram had no prior criminal record. He said investigators were also reviewing video recordings.

Investigators also believe Abram set a fire in the store. Champion said charges could be upgraded or more charges added after the investigation concludes.

"I feel extremely confident we'll have a very prosecutable case," Champion said.

No one answered the door at an address listed for Abram on Tuesday afternoon. Some neighbors at the apartment complex about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the shooting scene said they did not know him.

Moore said about 60 employees were working at the time. They were taken to the parking lot of an adjoining Chili's restaurant and interviewed by officers, remaining there for hours. Some embraced, while one was placed in an ambulance. Others gathered in a circle to pray. Finally, authorities brought employees back into the store after noon, spoke to them and released them to go home. The store remained closed, even as businesses operated as usual elsewhere on the high-traffic suburban strip.

"The entire Walmart family is heartbroken by the loss of two valued members of our team," Walmart U.S. President and CEO Greg Foran said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "We feel tragedies like this personally, and our hearts go out to the families of our two associates and the officer who was injured."

The company is relieved the suspect was apprehended, and appreciates the quick response by authorities and its employees, Foran said.

"We'll continue to focus on assisting law enforcement in their investigation and on supporting our associates," he added.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 161516

Reported Deaths: 3916
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10708104
Hinds10519205
Harrison7555113
Jackson6708128
Rankin6130112
Lee547697
Madison5202110
Forrest400187
Jones382189
Lauderdale3727147
Lafayette344057
Washington3367108
Lamar307550
Lowndes261167
Oktibbeha259962
Bolivar250185
Panola240253
Neshoba2311122
Marshall227151
Leflore213991
Monroe212278
Pontotoc211231
Lincoln200867
Sunflower195555
Warren184958
Tate184051
Union176826
Copiah172540
Pike168360
Pearl River163870
Yazoo162940
Scott162730
Itawamba162637
Alcorn160428
Coahoma157844
Prentiss156732
Simpson155153
Adams148352
Grenada147145
Leake143344
Holmes135761
Covington135541
Tippah132530
George131725
Winston131726
Hancock130942
Wayne124924
Attala124735
Marion124248
Tishomingo114844
Chickasaw112132
Newton112129
Tallahatchie100727
Clay97127
Clarke95653
Jasper88523
Stone83115
Calhoun81513
Walthall79930
Montgomery78826
Carroll76315
Smith75716
Lawrence75214
Yalobusha74428
Noxubee74217
Perry69326
Tunica63519
Greene63022
Jefferson Davis60217
Amite59315
Claiborne59316
Humphreys55719
Quitman5117
Benton50518
Kemper49318
Webster47914
Wilkinson41322
Jefferson38712
Franklin3726
Choctaw3697
Sharkey33117
Issaquena1234
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 260359

Reported Deaths: 3776
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34716513
Mobile20452370
Madison14215153
Tuscaloosa13755173
Montgomery12731243
Shelby1110278
Baldwin9341137
Lee801566
Morgan722855
Etowah692170
Calhoun6809121
Marshall675058
Houston552739
DeKalb512940
Cullman480246
St. Clair460357
Limestone455046
Lauderdale443357
Elmore432567
Walker3861112
Talladega381157
Jackson361623
Colbert341546
Blount315845
Autauga289342
Franklin262634
Coffee257717
Dale244454
Dallas234932
Chilton233641
Covington232434
Russell23153
Escambia206932
Tallapoosa190291
Chambers187551
Clarke164120
Pike163814
Marion148236
Winston144725
Lawrence137336
Pickens129720
Geneva12818
Marengo126724
Bibb125238
Barbour121429
Butler120042
Randolph107022
Cherokee106724
Hale101432
Fayette99916
Clay94825
Washington93921
Henry8996
Monroe84611
Lowndes82629
Cleburne80714
Macon77122
Crenshaw73330
Conecuh72914
Lamar7258
Bullock70919
Perry6987
Wilcox65518
Sumter59522
Greene44518
Choctaw43519
Coosa3824
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