A “disgruntled employee” at a Mississippi Walmart killed two co-workers and wounded a police officer in a deadly Tuesday shootout inside the superstore, authorities said.
Martez Abram, 39, a recently-terminated employee of the Southaven store, was charged with two counts of murder Tuesday afternoon, DeSoto County District Attorney John Champion said.
The deadly incident began around 6:30 a.m., when Southaven police responded to reports of an active shooter at a Walmart near the Tennessee border.
Abram “senselessly murdered” two store employees and wounded an officer before he was injured and apprehended, authorities said.
The victims have been identified as Anthony Brown, 40, and Brandon Gales, 38, the DeSoto County Coroner’s Office confirmed to The Daily Beast.
“These people were doing the same thing you and I do everyday, showing up to work in an attempt to provide for their families, then became victims of a senseless violent act,” Moore told reporters at a Tuesday press conference.
Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite told reporters that Abram, who is currently in surgery at Regional Medical Center, was a former “disgruntled employee who had a personal grievance with employer.”
Champion said Abram was terminated on Monday after showing another employee a knife in his belt. While the prosecutor did confirm that authorities are reviewing video evidence of the incident, he did not provide further details.
Authorities said there were 60 employees inside the megastore, which is about 13 miles from Memphis, Tenn., when the gunfire started early Tuesday. When officers arrived, they found Abram in the parking lot and exchanged fire, Moore said.
“One of our officers was shot at this time. He was saved by his vest," Moore said, adding that the officer was taken to another nearby hospital. “At this point, Abram was engaged by another officer. He was struck twice by gunfire from our officer. He was taken into custody.”
Gales’ father told local station FOX13 that the father of three was a Walmart employee for almost over 15 years and was recently promoted to department manager. Brown, a father of two and Mississippi native, was the store manager, his family told the local news station.
Phil Cox, a 70-year-old Walmart customer, told NBC News he had just left the store when he heard gunshots near him. Turning around, Cox said he saw a man sprinting into the store.
“We were within milliseconds of being very close to him, coming right at him, and maybe being in the line of fire,” Cox said. “Now that we’ve had some time to think about it, it’s alarming we were that close.”