New York shooting at supermarket leaves 1 dead, 2 wounded

Long Island incident saw a 49-year-old man fatally shot, 2 others wounded by current or former store employee

Police have arrested a suspect in connection with a shooting inside a manager's office at a suburban New York grocery store Tuesday morning that left one person dead and two others wounded. 

Gabriel DeWitt Wilson, 31, was taken into custody around 3:15 p.m. at an apartment building roughly 2 miles from the Stop & Shop grocery store in West Hempstead, in Nassau County on Long Island where the shooting occurred, Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. 

The shooting happened around 11:15 a.m. inside officers upstairs from the shopping floor.

Emergency service personnel work at the scene of a shooting at a Stop & Shop supermarket, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in West Hempstead, N.Y. 

Emergency service personnel work at the scene of a shooting at a Stop & Shop supermarket, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in West Hempstead, N.Y.  (AP)

Wilson, a shopping cart wrangler at the store, went to the offices immediately after arriving for work, wounding a man and a woman in one room before going down the hall and killing a 49-year-old store manager, Ryder said. 

The shooter fled the scene and remained at large for several hours amid a manhunt. 

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran tweeted around 3:15 p.m. -- approximately four hours after the shooting -- that DeWitt Wilson was in police custody. Information on charges and a lawyer who could speak on Wilson's behalf wasn't immediately available.

The shooting happened around 11 a.m. inside a manager’s office upstairs from the shopping floor at the Stop & Shop in West Hempstead, Ryder said.

One person, identified as a 49-year-old man, succumbed to his injuries, while two others were conscious and alert at an area hospital. The names of the victims have not been made public. 

"We probably had a couple of hundred shoppers in the store at the time," Ryder said. "You saw the line trying to get out, we stopped to question to make sure we have anybody that was a witness. Their information is being given to a homicide unit who is doing the investigation." 

"They told us to just run and get out, and that's what we did," shopper Laura Catanese told News 12 Long Island. 

Emergency service personnel work at the scene of a shooting at a Stop & Shop supermarket, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in West Hempstead, N.Y. 

Emergency service personnel work at the scene of a shooting at a Stop & Shop supermarket, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in West Hempstead, N.Y.  (AP)

Another shopper, Barbara Butterman, told Newsday she heard four or five shots while shopping for produce, initially thinking the sound was something falling in the back storeroom. 

"Everyone was running around upstairs where officers were," she told the newspaper. 

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Police named Wilson as a person of interest and described him as wearing a black baseball cap and a black sweatshirt. A motive for the attack was not yet disclosed. 

Video of the aftermath of the shooting showed police cars and ambulances parked in front of the store, officers with long guns, and yellow crime scene tape draped across the entrance.

During the manhunt, area schools were told not to admit visitors and residents were asked to remain indoors, police officials said. Nearby Adelphi University asked students to shelter in place as the manhunt continued.

Wilson was arrested after officers -- many in tactical gear and carrying long guns -- converged on a neighborhood in nearby Hempstead, which is east of the grocery store. 

Wilson has a criminal record and had been taken into custody previously in Nassau County for a mental health evaluation, Ryder said. 

Wilson was involved in a shooting in Baltimore in 2014, records show. Police said Wilson and another man fired shots at each other and were hospitalized with lower body wounds. Attempted murder charges against Wilson in that case were later dropped, records show. 

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Curran told News 12 that law enforcement "cast a wide net to locate the shooter." She said the shooting was "one of the most serious incidents we've had in a very, very long time."

Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid issued a statement in which he said the company was "shocked and heartbroken."

"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," Reid said, adding that the store would be closed until further notice.

Later Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his office was "closely monitoring" the situation and he had directed the New York State Police to assist local authorities with the ongoing manhunt. 

"I'm praying for the victims, and my heart breaks for their families and loved ones," Cuomo said in a statement shared on Twitter. 

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers in food and retail, including the Stop & Shop workers on shift during the shooting, issued a statement condemning the "senseless violence." 

"As the union for the brave New York grocery workers caught in the crossfire of this horrific shooting, UFCW is heartbroken and our prayers are with our members, their families, and the loves ones of all the victims," the union said. 

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West Hempstead is near the New York City-Nassau County border and about 30 miles east of midtown Manhattan. Stop & Shop is a grocery chain in the northeastern U.S. owned by the Dutch company Ahold Delhaize.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.