Thirteen people were shot, two are dead in what Police Chief Dale Lane called “the most horrific event that’s occurred in Collierville history.”
One of the two dead is the shooter, who was found at the back of the store killed by what officials believe was a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Lane said.
Law enforcement are still working some active scenes, including waiting on equipment to search the shooter’s car and some property of the shooter.
Part of the ongoing investigation is the shooter’s connection to Kroger, Lane said.
“It’s with a broken heart that I have to stand before you today,” Lane said. “Please keep the families in your prayers.”
Dispatchers received the call of an active shooter situation at the Kroger located at 240 New Byhalia Rd. at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The first police car arrived on scene at 1:34, Lane said, and officers began clearing the Kroger, aisle to aisle and room to room.
Lane said he did not know how many people were in the store at the time of the shooting, but that there were quite a few witnesses.
“We found people hiding in freezers and in locked offices,” Lane said. “They were doing what they had been trained to do. Run, hide, fight. I hate that we had to do it here.”
One Kroger employee was rescued from the roof, he said.
Lane would not describe what kind of weapon the shooter had.
At about 3:40 p.m., a spokesperson from Regional One Health said the hospital had received nine patients related to the shooting. Four of those patients were in critical condition.
A spokesperson for the Baptist Memorial Health Care system said one person had been brought to a Baptist hospital in relation to the Collierville shooting. A Methodist Le Bonheur spokesperson said the hospital received two patients related to the shooting. One was immediately rushed to surgery, the other was in stable condition, as of 4:20 p.m.
Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital has no patients in the hospital from the scene and is not aware of any patients planning to arrive, spokesperson David Henson told The Commercial Appeal at 2:30pm.
The Memphis Police Department assisted with securing the perimeter and scene, the department said on social media. Germantown City Administrator Patrick Lawton said Germantown fire and police department personnel had also been deployed to assist in Collierville.
A shelter-in-place on all Collierville Schools was lifted under consultation from the Collierville Police Department that the scene is secure. The schools are proceeding with normal operations of dismissal.
Kroger issued the following statement:
“We are deeply saddened by the incident that occurred at our Kroger store located on New Byhalia Rd. in Collierville, TN, a suburb of Memphis. The entire Kroger family offers our thoughts, prayers and support to the individuals and families of the victims during this difficult time. We are cooperating with local law enforcement, who have secured the store and parking lot. The store will remain closed while the police investigation continues, and we have initiated counseling services for our associates. To protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation, we are referring questions to the Collierville Police Department.”
Cheryl Pagliaro traveled from Saulsbury, Tennessee, to shop at a Kroger in Collierville. It’s a long drive, but the store carries a product she wanted that’s hard to find.
Pagilaro was gathering groceries when she heard a balloon go “pop.”
When she heard a second “pop,” she knew something was wrong.
“The next thing we all heard was, ‘What the hell,'” Pagliaro recalled at the scene of a deadly grocery store shooting Thursday afternoon.
Then “pop” again, at least 12 more times in rapid succession. Pagliaro was running.
“Active shooter! Active shooter!” Pagliaro shouted to people along her path to a nearby gym. She could hear a person getting closer.
Brignetta Dickerson has been working at Kroger for more than 30 years. Stationed at register 17 in the middle of the store, she also thought she heard balloons popping.
“Oh no, these are gunshots,” Dickerson thought.
“I got out of there,” Dickerson told Commercial Appeal news partner WMC Action News. “Whoever was in front of me, I grabbed them and took off.”
She went to the employee break room, near the meat department, but realized the shooter may come in and start shooting.
So she, three employees and three customers, went together to another area in the back of the Kroger, Dickerson explained, tracing the pathway through the store in the air. In the back was an opening at the receiving department for deliveries.
“That’s the only safe haven we got,” Dickerson said.
The shooter, who appeared to be a man, she said, had followed them, and started shooting.
The person shot one of her co-workers in the head. The person shot one of the customers in the stomach.
Soon after, the police arrived.
Dickerson is physically OK, but shaky and sad.
“I’ve been through everything,” she said Thursday afternoon. “This right here took the cake.”
Glenda McDonald, who works in Kroger’s floral department, said she was not injured but was shaken.
McDonald said she walked out of the back office to the floral counter when she heard something that sounded like a gunshot.
“I just ran out the door,” McDonald said. “I left my purse, my keys, everything.”
She said she is not sure how many people were injured, but she believed she saw a bagger and some customers get shot before fleeing.
Manny Reis, 49, was driving down Poplar just as police began to arrive on the scene:
“Tons and tons of cop cars flying towards the back entrance of the Kroger on the street that runs behind it and they blocked it all off, and then they’re all opening up their trunks and grabbing shotguns. And then they all started swarming around,” Reis said.
Outside of the Kroger he said he saw someone without a shirt that was carried away by four paramedics on the scene.
“There were some people out. There was somebody without a shirt on,” Reis said. “So I don’t know if that person got injured, was shot I don’t know. I know at one point I did see them basically, like four people go over to that person and pick that person up and carry them away from that area.”
He also said that they grabbed him by each of his limbs to carry him away.
Laura Tubbs, 34, was waiting in a parking lot across the street from the grocery store. She said her husband is the pharmacy manager and that she was working in her job as a teacher at a preschool about 1:41 p.m. when he sent her a text message that said “I’m OK.”
She said at the the time, she didn’t know why he would say that, and she didn’t respond. Then someone alerted her to the news of the shooting.
At about 4:40 p.m., she was in the parking lot waiting for him, standing up on tiptoe to see better. He’d told her by phone that he got the pharmacy employees out, and that he was in disbelief when he heard the shots, she said.
“You don’t expect these kinds of things to happen in Collierville,” she said. (Collierville is a prosperous community with a low crime rate.)
“I’m so thankful to God that he is OK.”
And he had told her by phone that he was walking over now, from near ATC Fitness.
It seemed to take a long time.
“There he is,” she said.
Her husband, dressed in blue scrubs and sunglasses, crossed the street and walked up to her. They hugged for several seconds.
Her husband said he couldn’t talk about what had happened. “Sorry man, I’m not allowed to say anything.”
Tamika Johnson, 38, was at the crime scene tape waiting for news about a relative: her aunt, who is about 69 years old and works at Kroger – she said her mother told her she works in the deli department. “I’m out here today to check on my aunt to make sure she was not in the store at the time of the shooting.” She said relatives have not been able to reach her aunt and her mother was calling Regional One to see if she had been brought there. She said her aunt is the first lady, or pastor’s wife, at a COGIC church and organizes holiday food donations for needy families. “She’s dedicated to the community. She loves people.”
She said the situation is a reminder of the unpredictability of life.
“You know, sometimes we wake up in the morning and we just don’t know what we’re going to be in, what we’re encountered to go through that day.
“I know nobody at this Kroger thought that this would be this day right here, that your life flash before your eyes so I can only imagine how these folks are traumatized right now.”
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