A grocery-cart worker at Long Island Stop & Shop opened fire at three people inside the supermarket on Tuesday, April 20, injuring two and killing another. The suspect, identified as a 31-year-old black man named Gabriel Dewitt Wilson, was apprehended soon after and taken into custody at Hempstead in the afternoon.
The armed attack happened at 11:19 a.m. in the Long Island Stop & Shop, West Hempstead, a suburb about 27 miles east of New York City, said Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.
Nassau County Police said that the suspect was roughly 6’2″ feet tall and was wearing a black baseball hat and a black sweatshirt.
“He was wearing all black,” Ryder told reporters.
As The New York Post reported, Wilson put on a black mask before using a small handgun to shoot his 49-year-old male supervisor dead and wounding two other people present in the store. Allegedly, he may have lost his job or was going to before the deadly assault.
The shooting happened in an upstairs manager’s office at the store, according to witnesses.
“He just went up to the office upstairs and shot him!” said one male employee of the store. Another witness proclaimed, “My God! He shot two more on his way [out].”
According to Ryder, when they arrived, the supermarket was filled with hundreds of shoppers trying to get out.
Ryder said, “You saw the line trying to get out.” We stopped and questioned them to make sure we had anyone who was a witness.
A lockout order was demanded after the incident, including nearby schools. Simultaneously, residents were advised not to leave their homes, and the supermarket was emptied as police searched for the suspect.
In a statement, Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid shared his condolence to those affected by the shooting.
“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 wrote.
It took officials around four hours to find the suspect after witnesses said he headed westbound on Hempstead Turnpike. They located and arrested Wilson as he was hiding in a building approximately 2 miles away from the crime scene.
WATCH: #WestHempstead Stop & Shop suspected shooter Gabriel Dewitt Wilson, 31, being taken into custody by police.
— News 12 New York (@News12) April 20, 2021
On the day of the shooting, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone introduced the extension of a video-sharing service to supermarkets and big-box stores, a hoped-for deterrent in active shooter cases or other similar emergencies.
“It’s one of the things that keeps me up at night as a county executive—that we can have one of these shootings here in our community, on Long Island. We are the only country in this world where this epidemic of violence and mass shootings takes place. It is disgraceful, it is disturbing, and it has to end. We have to take action,” said Bellone.