‘Everyone was running’: Man kills woman, toddler at Florida Publix supermarket

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Florida — A man fatally shot a woman and a toddler before taking his own life in a Publix supermarket in Royal Palm Beach on Thursday morning, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said.

The shooting happened inside the store near the produce section just after 11:30 a.m. Police believe the shooter and the victims, a woman and her grandson, may have known each other, the Palm Beach Post reported. The boy would have turned 2 years old this month.

No names have been released.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, sheriff’s spokesperson Teri Barbera said detectives were speaking to witnesses and reviewing surveillance video.

“This was NOT an active shooter situation,” Barbera said in a statement.

Juan Guardia said he was in the supermarket’s deli area when chaos erupted.

“I heard, ‘They’re shooting!’ A woman Publix worker said, ‘Run! Shooting!’” Guardia recalled. “I was scared. It’s sad because everything happened fast. Everyone was running. Some employees were crying.”

Multiple patrol cars arrived at The Crossroads shopping center 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.

While a handful of Publix employees were allowed to leave the store, it appeared most workers and some customers were being kept inside to be interviewed by deputies. At about 2:30 p.m., some workers began leaving the store.

Law enforcement officials were checking license tags on cars in the parking lot. People were not being allowed to move their vehicles.

Nearby residents expressed shock.

“This is a friendly Publix. I can’t believe this crazy thing happened,” said Tracy Greene, who often shops at the store.

“This is not a Publix problem. This is a people problem,” said Oahtee Moody, a Royal Palm Beach resident who lives across the street from the store. “I was born and raised here, and I never would expect this to happen.”

Publix has more than 1,200 stores across seven states in the Southeast U.S. Maria Brous, a Publix spokesperson, told USA TODAY the company was cooperating with local law enforcement.

“Our thoughts are with those who are impacted by this tragedy,” Brous said.

County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who represents the area, said in a statement the shooting was “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.”

Royal Palm Beach is a village of about 40,000 people, according to Census Bureau data. The village is about 15 miles inland, west of West Palm Beach.

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