By Briana Bonfiglio and Robert Pozarycki
A 49-year-old man has died and two are injured after a shooting at a Stop & Shop in West Hempstead just before noon on Tuesday, according to the Nassau County Police Department.
Police say that a man shot the three victims in an upstairs managers’ office. The person who died is a manager of the store on Cherry Valley Avenue. The two injured are also employees and being treated at a local hospital, one in critical and one in stable condition.
After a few hours of searching for the gunman, at about 3:10 p.m., County Executive Laura Curran said that police officers took Gabriel DeWitt Wilson into custody at 100 Terrace Avenue in Hempstead, about two miles from the Stop & Shop.
According to Pat Ryder, commissioner of Nassau County Police Department, Wilson, 31, is employed as a cart collector at the Stop & Shop. At the time of his shift on Tuesday, he allegedly went straight upstairs and shot the three people in two separate offices.
“We don’t know the reason for the shooting,” he said, adding that there were about 200 people in the store at the time.
Due to the shooting investigation, several school districts in the area enforced lockouts, including West Hempstead, Malverne, Mineola, Valley Stream North, Hicksville, Lynbrook, Sewanhaka, Sacred Heart Academy, Chaminade High School, Long Beach, Garden City, New Hyde Park, and Adelphi University.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Tuesday that he directed the New York State Police to assist in the search, adding that “my team and I are in constant contact with first responders on the ground. I’m praying for the victims, and my heart breaks for their families and loved ones.”
Gordon Reid, president of Stop & Shop, expressed heartbreak over the shooting, and said the store will remain closed until further notice.
“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. “At this time, we are cooperating fully with local law enforcement on the investigation.”
West Hempstead Stop & Shop employees are represented by UFCW Local 342 and RWDSU/UFCW Local 338. Marc Perrone, president of UFCW International, released a statement after Tuesday’s tragic events.
“UFCW is heartbroken and our prayers are with our members, their families, and the loved ones of all the victims,” he said. “America’s grocery workers have been bravely putting their health at risk on the frontlines of Covid-19 every day to keep our families fed. This latest mass shooting is a tragic reminder that the pandemic is not the only threat these workers face.
“While we have rightfully focused on doing more to protect essential workers from the risks of the pandemic,” he added, “more must be done by our corporate and elected leaders to address the epidemic of gun violence that threatens workers’ lives, and continues to infect more and more workplaces.”
This is a developing story; check with LongIslandPress.com later for further updates.