WEST HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — A shooting at a Stop & Shop supermarket in West Hempstead on Long Island Tuesday left a store manager dead and two other employees wounded, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.
The suspected gunman, identified as Gabriel DeWitt Wilson, was taken into custody several hours later at an apartment complex in Hempstead, according Ryder.
Wilson, a cart collector at the supermarket, walked into work Tuesday morning, headed to the second floor of the building and opened fire on two workers inside an office, Ryder said. He then walked down the hall to a second office and fatally shot a manager inside, according to the commissioner.
“Within a matter of minutes, it was over,” Ryder said during a press briefing after Wilson’s arrest.
Watch the news briefing in the player below.
Police were called to the active shooter situation at the Stop & Shop on Cherry Valley Road just before 11:20 a.m.
“There were a lot of people shopping in the store, in the parking lot. The Fifth Precinct did an outstanding job getting them out, controlling that flow of people,” Ryder said.
The store manager, a 49-year-old man, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Ryder. The two employees who were wounded, a man and a woman, were taken to a hospital. Ryder described them as “conscious and alert” and cooperating with police.
The name of the victims have not been made public.
Authorities launched a massive manhunt for the gunman and quickly identified Wilson as a person of interest in the shooting.
“Calls started to come in. We locked down immediately all of our schools in the area,” Ryder said.
A tip from a caller led police to an apartment complex on Terrace Avenue in Hempstead. Police and SWAT surrounded the building, and Wilson was taken into custody on the first floor while trying to flee, Ryder said.
County Executive Laura Curran said police acted quickly while keeping the surrounding communities safe.
“Over the past several months, we in Nassau County have watched on television screens, active shooters devastate communities, but today that reality came home to Nassau County,” Curran said during the afternoon briefing. “And our hearts go out to the families and the victims of this crime.”
Witnesses said the shooter had a handgun, but no weapons were immediately recovered at the Stop & Shop. Ryder said investigators believe Wilson used a small handgun, but stopped short of saying whether it was recovered at the apartment building where he was apprehended.
“We don’t know yet what is at that residence,” he added.
Wilson has a small criminal background and was treated once for a mental health illness in Nassau County, according to police. He also has multiple known addresses, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether the Terrace Avenue address was his primary residence, Ryder said.
A motive for the shooting was still under investigation. How Wilson got from the supermarket to the apartment complex also remained under investigation, Ryder said. Charges against Wilson had not been made public, as of late Tuesday afternoon.
Back at the Stop & Shop, Lucas De Jesus, an employee who was working on the roof at the store, said everything “happened really fast.”
De Jesus said he was disappointed by recent shootings nationwide.
“This stuff’s got to end. Nobody should have to come to work and go through something like this,” he said.
Stop & Shop president Gordon Reid released a statement saying the company was “shocked and heartbroken by this act of violence.”
“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims, our associates, customers and the first responders who have responded heroically to this tragic situation. At this time, we are cooperating fully with local law enforcement on the investigation. The store will remain closed until further notice, and we appreciate the Long Island community’s support during this difficult time,” Reid said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed New York State Police to assist local authorities in the investigation.