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Suspected Arkansas grocery store shooter was armed with pistol, 12-gauge shotgun and dozens of extra rounds, authorities say | CNN



Suspected Arkansas grocery store shooter was armed with pistol, 12-gauge shotgun and dozens of extra rounds, authorities say | CNN


The suspect in a mass shooting at a grocery store in Arkansas was armed with a pistol, 12-gauge shotgun and had a bandolier with dozens of extra shotgun rounds, authorities said at a news conference Sunday.

The man, identified by police as 44-year-old Travis Eugene Posey, opened fire at the Mad Butcher in Fordyce on Friday, killing four people ranging in age from 23 to 81 years old and wounding nine others.

“The suspect arrived at the Mad Butcher armed,” Secretary of Public Safety and Director of Arkansas State Police Mike Hagar said. “We believe that most, if not all the rounds, fired by the suspect were from the shotgun.”

Authorities believe the suspect “immediately began engaging victims in the parking lot after exiting his truck and then proceeded into the store,” according to Hagar.

Once inside the Mad Butcher, the suspect “was firing indiscriminately at both customers and employees,” Hagar said.

Posey is expected to be charged with four counts of capital murder, with additional charges pending, according to an Arkansas State Police news release. He is set to appear in court on Monday, Dallas County prosecutor Eric Marks said.

Law enforcement responded to the shooting around 11:30 a.m. CT and exchanged gunfire with the suspect, according to Arkansas State Police.

Officers arrived less than three minutes from the time the first shot was fired, Hagar said. “When law enforcement arrived on scene, the suspect exited the store, and the officers redirected his attention towards them,” he said.

“He immediately engaged in a firefight with law enforcement, where they were able to stop the threat,” Hagar said. “The time the suspect was down was less than five minutes.”

Posey was “treated for non-life-threatening injuries after exchanging gunfire with law enforcement” and taken to the Ouachita County Detention Center, state police said in a release.

The suspect’s motive is not yet clear, Hagar said, noting that his criminal history is “very limited – if there is any at all.”

It is unclear if Posey has retained legal counsel at this point.

The four people killed in the shooting were identified by police as: 23-year-old Callie Weems, 50-year-old Roy Sturgis, 62-year-old Shirley Taylor and 81-year-old Ellen Shrum.

Weems, the youngest victim, leaves behind her 10-month-old daughter Ivy, according to a GoFundMe set up by family friends to help with her funeral expenses.

“Callie’s life was tragically took yesterday way (too) soon,” reads the campaign, verified by GoFundMe.

“With Ivy being left behind this is a great way for Helen (Callie’s mother) to also do something for her future. She loved her child and everyone witnessed her being a phenomenal mom. Pray for Helen, Ivy and family the days to come will be the hardest.”

Taylor’s daughter, Angela Atchley, told CNN her mother loved her family and kids and was “the hardest working woman I know” and a “great person.”

“We are completely lost,” Atchley said.

63-year-old Shirley Kay Taylor was one of the victims of the shooting in Fordyce, Arkansas at the Mad Butcher.

Five women and two men from 20 to 65 years old were injured in the shooting. Four of them are still in the hospital, including a woman who is in critical condition. Three victims were treated and released on Friday. Two police officers were also wounded in the gunfire, with one released from the hospital Saturday evening and another having minor injuries.

“I can tell you from what we’ve seen that there appears to be no personal connection to the shooter of any of the victims,” Hagar said. “He simply started engaging victims indiscriminately — just as targets of opportunity.”

The US has seen a spate of shootings in the past few weeks, with over 20 mass shootings recorded by the Gun Violence Archive since last Friday. Shootings permeated a Michigan splash pad, a Texas Juneteenth celebration and a Massachusetts car meetup, among other locations.

They are among at least 246 mass shootings have taken place in the United States in 2024, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, which, like CNN, defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are shot, excluding the shooter.

Panicked shoppers hid in a freezer and ran for cover

Damage can be seen to a front window as law enforcement officers work the scene of a shooting at the Mad Butcher grocery store in Fordyce, Ark., Friday, June 21, 2024.

Katrina Doherty – who had been shopping for dinner with her 18-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son – said she first thought she heard the sound of something falling but then saw glass shatter and someone drop to the ground. That’s when she knew shots were being fired.

Outside, David Rodriguez was pulling into a gas station when he heard “pops” that he initially thought were fireworks. He then noticed the grocery store’s front windows were broken – as if they had been “shot open” by gunfire, Rodriguez said.

Panicked shoppers then started running away as gunshots were fired rapidly, Rodriguez said.

Not finding an escape route, Doherty and others in the store hurriedly hid in a freezer. Doherty’s daughter and son, who were in a different aisle, reunited with their mother in the back of the store and followed two store workers into the freezer. The 39-year-old mother said she heard about nine or ten rounds before making it into the icy shelter.

“We ran in there really fast. We still heard gunshots keep going off,” Doherty said. “It was like slow motion. My daughter was like ‘Mama, pinch me, this can’t be real.’ And I was like, ’Baby, it’s real.’”

From outside, Rodriguez heard sirens and watched as ambulances and police arrived at the scene.

Doherty couldn’t hear what was happening outside, and when they tried to call 9-1-1, there was no service. The group stayed inside, enduring the freezing cold in “panic mode,” with some praying and others crying, she recalled.

Her son started to cry, “but we finally got him calmed down because I didn’t want the shooter to hear.”

“We were just sitting there and praying. I was in panic mode. My son about froze to death. We tried to get him quiet, but he was saying he wanted his daddy. It felt like we were in there forever,” Doherty said. “We were in there maybe 15 minutes. I was asking the Lord to protect over everybody. I was just praying. The other lady, she was praying. She was crying.”

At one point, one of the workers opened the freezer door, and saw someone dead right outside of it, Doherty said. The door remained shut until one of the store workers heard police outside, and they were then escorted out of the store, Doherty said.

Once she was out of the store, Doherty reunited with her 15-year-old twin daughters who were waiting outside in the car during the shooting and ducked down when they heard the gunshots.

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