COLLIERVILLE, Tenn.– A nurse practitioner working inside Kroger’s clinic is sharing her story of survival after a deadly mass shooting took place inside the store in Collierville on Thursday afternoon.
For many, it was appearing to be a normal grocery shopping day. For Kelly Sly, the clinic’s manager, it was the time she usually took her lunch break.
“Normally when I come to work I’ll bring my lunch and I’ll warm it up in the deli. That day I opened my lunch and there was nothing in it.” Kelly said. She went to pick up something in the store. Seconds after getting back to the clinic, she heard a loud bang. “So I got up to go to the door to try to see what was going on and that’s when I hear rapid gunfire.”
A woman ran toward her for cover. They barricaded themselves inside the clinic while listening to everything unfold. “I’m assuming he was walking up and down the aisle shooting people because it wasn’t the rapid fire it was at first.”
She immediately called 911. Afterward, Kelly made another call.
“Then I called my husband and gave him a goodbye message and tell the kids I love them, they’re my world. The things you don’t think about saying on an everyday basis until you have to,” she said.
Minutes later, police led the women out of the store. What she saw while running out painted a grim picture.
“When we came out running through aisles you could see different, it looks like people just ran. There were broken jars of pickles and tomatoes smeared on the floor,” she said.
Police say that Uk Thang is the man responsible for the shooting that sent 15 people to the hospital and took the life of one of those in the store.
Thang was a third-party vendor and someone Kelly saw from time to time in the store.
“These are the people you see every day and make relationships with. It’s very sad that he thought that’s what he had to do or his way out,” she said. “I couldn’t believe we made it out. I honestly thought we were going to die there that day.”
Kelly says their employee training saved lives. “It was one man, an employee, that pushed people out the back door and ended up getting shot three times because he was helping customers out the store but that’s what we’re trained to do.”
Still shaken, she hopes what isn’t shaken is the spirit and resilience of this community.
Police in Collierville said Thang had been asked to leave his job that morning.