Southaven, Mississippi: Martez Abram shot-and-killed two people at Mississippi Walmart on July 30, local police said. Abram, 39, is also accused of wounding a police officer during the attack. The shooting occurred at around 6:30 a.m. in the city of Southaven, close to the Mississippi/Tennessee border, 13 miles south of Memphis.
Abram has been identified as a disgruntled employee who had recently been suspended having worked at the Walmart location for 25 years. DeSoto County District Attorney John Champion said in announcing Abram as the suspect, that Abram had no prior criminal record. He is expected to face charges of two counts of first-degree murder. Authorities believe that Abram acted alone.
The two men who were killed have been named as Brandon Gales, 38, and Anthony Brown, 40. Officials have said that Gales was shot dead in the parking lot of the store while Brown was found dead inside of the store.
A responding police officer was shot by Abram, those bullets struck the officer’s bulletproof vest, officials said. Abram was then shot twice by a second officer.
This shooting comes two days after authorities say 19-year-old Santino William Legan shot-and-killed three people, a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man, at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in northern California. Legan was shot dead by police officers who were working at the festival.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Abram Was Allegedly Suspended for Bringing a Knife to Work
Multiple outlets have reported that Abram had worked for Walmart for 25 years before being suspended on July 27 before being fired on July 29, the day before the shooting. One of Abram’s co-workers told Local Memphis that the suspect “was known to have issues at the store.”
Early reports said that Abram had been fired after he allegedly pulled a knife on a customer. DA Champion later said that Abram had showed the knife to a fellow employee and after the incident, the police were called and a report was made. The DA said that he did not believe that Abram had threatened anyone.
Seeing several Southaven Police officers go in and out of Baptist DeSoto Hospital. This is where we’re told the injured officer from the @Walmart shooting is being cared for. No word on his condition at this hour #WMC5 pic.twitter.com/jbmRnjGSOf— Arianna Poindexter (@AriannaWMC5) July 30, 2019
Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite told the media in the afternoon of the shooting, “This is someone who had a personal grievance with his employer. That’s sad enough, but its not something the city should be alarmed about as far as being on top of the event.”
2. Abram Told a Female Employee: ‘You’re Next’
An employee of the Walmart told WREG that she was on her way to work when she saw Abram in the parking lot. The woman said that Abram pointed a gun at her and said, “You’re next.” The woman added that she was able to run away and hide until police arrived at the scene.
Abram has been taken to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis where he has undergone surgery. Witnesses told the Associated Press that the gunman was seen shooting a victim, Brandon Gales, in the parking lot of the store before going into the store.
Another witness, Phil Cox, told Local Memphis, “Crazy. crazy world. How can you be prepared for something like this? You can’t. There’s nothing you can do to be prepared for something for it. Just terrible. I feel so sorry for the people who were shot.” Cox told the Commercial Appeal that despite seeing the gunman, he did not feel threatened. Cox told the newspaper, “I think the guy was going after employees.”
3. Cops Allegedly Found More Ammunition in a Package in the Walmart Parking Lot & at Abram’s Home
Southaven Police Chief Macon Moore told the media in an initial press conference following the shooting that the bomb squad was continuing to sweep the Walmart as a suspicious package had been discovered. WREG reports that investigators went to Abram’s home at the Southcrest Lake Apartments in Southaven and found more ammunition. Officials said that further ammunition was found in package at the Walmart. One neighbor told WREG that he regularly watched football with the suspect whom he referred to as “Tez.”
The officer-involved shooting aspect of the attack is being investigated by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.
4. Brandon Gales Has Been Described as an ‘All-Around Good Guy’
Family confirms that 40-year-old Anthony Brown was killed during the shooting at the Southaven, MS Walmart. He was a store manager at that location. Brown is from Caledonia, Mississippi and has two children. The family didn’t want to make a comment at this time. @FOX13Memphis pic.twitter.com/C0CRNHkUQT— Jacque Masse (@massereports) July 30, 2019
Family members told Local Memphis that Gales had worked for Walmart for 16 years, beginning working there at the age of 19. Gales was a resident of Hernando while Anthony Brown lived in Olive Branch.
WREG reports that Gales was a father to three children, a daughter, 18, and two sons, 10 and 5. One of Gales’ colleagues, Travis Jones, told the AP that the victim was a close friend and an “all-round good guy.”
The light in the darkness — iHOP and Chick-fil-a are dropping off food to Walmart employees as they continue to wait across the street hours after a deadly shooting claimed two of their co-workers lives. pic.twitter.com/ZnDN8QjWoL— Jalyn Souchek (@Local24Jalyn) July 30, 2019
Following the shooting, Walmart employees could be seen forming a prayer circle nearby. There were around 60 Walmart employees inside of the store at the time of the shooting.
In an online tribute to Brown, Torrey Harris wrote on Facebook, “Wow… RIP Anthony Brown. An awesome dedicated individual. A store shooting happened during my management time with Walmart and is the reason I ended my tenure. The shooting today in Southaven, MS is heartbreaking and a devastating loss of two lives, The Store Manager (Anthony Brown) and a backroom employee (Brandon Gales) at the hand of a former coworker. Access to guns continues to be a heavily legislated issue. Everyday it gets closer and closer to home for families, When will something be done because what’s in place currently isn’t working.”
5. The Southaven Shooting Is the 5th Active Shooter Event at a Walmart Since 2000
According to the FBI’s database, the July 30 Southaven shooting is the fifth active shooter event to occur inside of a Walmart since 2000. The database shows that there have been similar shootings in Colorado, North Dakota and two in Nevada. In 2016, a Bloomberg expose reported that Walmart had seen an explosion in the number of crimes committed at stores since cost-cutting measures began in 2000.
In a statement, the retail giant said, “We’re deeply saddened by the reports from our store in Southaven, Mississippi. We are working with local law enforcement and will continue to update as we learn more. Our hearts are with the victims, their families and the entire Southaven community.”