MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hugs were being shared by those gathering in the Southaven Walmart parking lot after chaos broke out early Tuesday morning.
An officer was injured and two Walmart employees were killed during the shooting.
The DeSoto County coroner identified the victims as Brandon Gales, 38, of Hernando and Anthony Brown, 40, of Olive Branch. An officer was injured but is expected to be OK.
"Everyone was just running past me, and the next thing you know, you just started hearing gunshots. Pow, pow, pow, pow," witness Carlito Odom said. "My cousin works there, and I'm calling him, calling him. When he called me back, he was like, 'Man, they shot Brandon."
Odom is now remembering his friend.
Gales' father told us his son has three children and was a department manager at Walmart after working with the company for more than 15 years. He says his son was a nice guy who was well known in the neighborhood.
"I'm hot right now. I'm just still speechless and shocked," resident Dustin Jones said.
Jones knew Brown from when she would work with him on projects at Walmart for tax season. She says Brown was the reason she liked working at that particular Walmart so much.
"He was really the head guy of this place. He even made me feel part of home."
The suspect was identified as Martez Abram, 39, a former employee at the Walmart. He is charged with two counts of murder, and more charges may follow when he is released from a hospital in Memphis, according to DeSoto County District Attorney John Champion.
Abram was suspended on Saturday and fired from his job Monday, according to a source close to the investigation.
Champion said Abram had brought a knife into the Walmart and showed it to an employee, but said it was not pursued beyond police taking a report. He said Abram did not appear to have a previous criminal history. Champion said officers found more weapons in the course of the investigation.
A source confirmed that the suspect lived at the Southcrest Lake Apartments in Southaven. WREG west to that location and saw officers in the apartment. One neighbor said he had watched football with the suspect, who he knew as "Tez."
In a statement, a spokesperson for Walmart said the entire Walmart family is heartbroken and that they will continue to assist law enforcement and support their associates.