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A man shot a toddler and his grandmother to death before turning his handgun on himself inside a Publix in Royal Palm Beach late Thursday morning, sending customers and cashiers fleeing from the store in fear.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office identified the gunman as 55-year-old Timothy J. Wall late Thursday. There is no known motive or relationship between Wall and the victims, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Teri Barbera said. Detectives are still investigating.
Barbera said officials will not be releasing the name of the woman and her grandson because their family invoked Marsy’s Law.
Publix will be closed until Saturday, Barbera said. Customers who left behind personal items can pick them up from PBSO deputies in front of Publix on Friday morning between 9 a.m. and noon.
The shooting was over before the first deputy arrived on the scene, Barbera said. No one else was hurt.
Lynn Waterman, 61, was at the cashier paying and asking for cigarettes when she heard what she thought were balloons popping. Suddenly, she said, the cashier said there was a shooter and fled.
“Everybody ran out of the store and I stood in the parking lot a while and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Why am I standing out here? He could come out and shoot us,’” Waterman said.
Few people were in the store at the time, she said. When she hurried out, she left $10 in cash on the counter, but she isn’t worried about it. “I’m glad I’m alive, that’s all,” she said.
Another shopper, Juan Guardia, said he was in the deli section when the shooting began. He didn’t see the gunman, but he “heard a shot and an employee ran and yelled, ‘Hey, shooter! Shooter!’… [Everyone] ran to the back of the supermarket and then we went out” the back of the store, Guardia said.
While others were running out, one man was running in.
“We actually had a deputy that was at the dry cleaners down the way,” Barbera said. “As soon as he heard the call go out, he immediately entered Publix.”
A host of other deputies arrived to secure the scene and cordon off The Crossroads at Royal Palm Beach plaza for the investigation. But it was already too late — the shooting was over, Barbera said.
Now investigators are working to determine what led up to the shooting.
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“Our thoughts are with those who are impacted by this tragedy,” said Publix spokeswoman Nicole Krauss. She did not provide any further details, referring questions to the Sheriff’s Office.
Elvis Way, a grocery bagger for 13 years, was outside collecting shopping carts when shoppers came racing out of the store screaming “Run!” He took refuge in a nearby Dollar Tree store, crouched to the ground telling shoppers there had been a shooting at Publix. Way later raced outside and hid as close as he could to law enforcement.
“It’s awful,” he said as he walked through a rear parking lot of the plaza Thursday afternoon, using his black apron to rub sweat from his face.
Joey Mendoza, 62, of Royal Palm Beach, was pulling into the parking lot to get a couple sandwiches at the Publix deli when he saw police cruisers and officers, some in tactical gear, sprinting with their guns drawn.
“A couple of minutes later, I would’ve been in there,” he said. “That’s what I’m thinking. Two, three minutes later, usually, because I parked right in the front. At that point, I didn’t bother getting out. I saw them running in; I didn’t get out of the vehicle.
“They just kept coming. Cruiser after cruiser, ambulance after ambulance, firetruck after firetruck.”