At least two people are dead after a gunman attacked a Walmart distribution center in the Northern California town of Red Bluff on Saturday, hospital officials said.
Local media confirmed the deaths with the St. Elizabeth Community Hospital, where four other victims of the rampage were said to be in fair condition.
Police have yet to confirm details about the chaotic assault, which unfolded at about 3:30 p.m. when the shooter reportedly rammed his vehicle into the building, causing a fire and injuring people inside before opening fire. Witnesses cited by local media said he appeared to be using an assault rifle and fired off dozens of shots. Police reportedly shot him in the chest about 15 minutes after gunfire first erupted.
Deputies with the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office found that the gunman had circled the parking lot four times before plowing into the building and pulling out a semiautomatic weapon. But police have not yet determined a motive.
Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston told the Record-Searchlight newspaper that investigators were working to determine if the attack was connected to another shooting earlier in the day that left several dead in Shingletown, about 40 miles away.
“There was an active shooter, he was shot, last I heard he was on his way to the hospital,” Red Bluff City Manager Rick Crabtree told KRCR-TV.
No further details were immediately available on the victims or the alleged gunman.
Scott Pope, a spokesman for Walmart, said the company was “deeply saddened by this tragic incident.”
“Our focus is on supporting our associates, as well as their families and co-workers in the facility. This is an active police investigation and we will continue to work with Tehama County Sherriff’s Office and assist in their investigation in any way possible,” Pope said.
Witnesses were left reeling after the attack, which is said to have happened during shift change.
Vince Krick watched the assault unfold from outside the facility, where he told the Record Searchlight he was waiting to pick up his wife and son.
“It was real crazy, because, you know, you can’t do nothing,” he was quoted as saying. He said he first saw the fire at the building while on his way to pick his wife up.
“It went on and on—I don’t even know how many times he fired,” another employee, Scott Thammakhanty, told the newspaper. “I just know it was a lot.”
Walmart employee Franklin Lister told The New York Times he’d just started his shift when another employee ran by screaming, “Active shooter!” He said he “realized it wasn’t a drill” when he saw blood running down the employee’s arm.
“To hear that much gunfire, it was frantic. People were running as fast as they could move.”