The Royal Palm Beach shooting that occurred at a Publix supermarket on Thursday has shaken the small community in Florida. A grandmother and her almost 2-year-old grandson were both fatally shot before the gunman took his own life. The scene was chaotic, and police are still trying to understand what happened.
“Everyone was yelling, active shooter, shots fired, get out, get out,” said Dr. Ron Glassman, who had just come out of a nearby bank. “I saw about 50 customers and staff leave in about 10 or 15 seconds.”
Juan Guardia said he was in the supermarket’s deli area when chaos erupted. “I heard, ‘They’re shooting!’ A Publix worker said, ‘Run! Shooting!’ I was scared. It’s sad because everything happened fast. Everyone was running. Some employees were crying,” Guardia said.
Multiple patrol cars arrived at The Crossroads shopping center in Royal Palm Beach, where the Publix is located, shortly before noon. A sheriff’s office helicopter hovered in the air above the store, and a Palm Beach County Fire Rescue vehicle was at the scene.
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The bloodbath occurred inside the Publix store near the produce section just after 11:30 a.m. The gunman was identified as Timothy J. Wall, 55, of Royal Palm Beach. Wall’s lethal injuries were said to be self-inflicted and the murder weapon was found next to his body. As of Thursday night, there was “no known motive or relationship between the gunman and his victims,” the sheriff’s office said.
Authorities would not identify either of the victims — the woman or the toddler, who would have turned two years old this month. The family had invoked its rights under a 2018 amendment to the state constitution, modeled on California’s Marsy’s Law, that allows crime victims and their families to withhold their names from public reports.
“This was NOT an active shooter situation,” Teri Barbera, the sheriff’s spokesperson, said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. Barbera also said detectives are interviewing witnesses and reviewing surveillance video to determine what happened.
Royal Palm Beach is a village of about 40,000 people, about 15 miles inland to the west of West Palm Beach. Nearby residents expressed shock at the brutal shooting.
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“This is a friendly Publix. I can’t believe this crazy thing happened,” said Tracy Greene, who often shops at the store.
County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who represents the area where the shooting occurred, said in a statement the killings were “heartbreaking.”
“We’ve become too numb to gun violence,” she said. “Today we mourn the loss of these lives and we pray for those inside of Publix who witnessed this tragedy as well as the first responders who continue to run toward danger to protect the public. Tomorrow we must step up and engage in a very honest conversation about why this happened and what can do specifically to prevent this violence. Inaction is not an option.”