west hempstead
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell.

The suspect accused of killing one and wounding two others in a shooting at the Stop & Shop in West Hempstead on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder charges in Nassau County court.

Gabriel Dewitt Wilson, an employee at the supermarket, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and four counts of attempted murder after allegedly shooting at five employees in the store, killing one and injuring two. He faces 25 years to life in prison, if convicted, according to Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.

“Yesterday we heard the two most dreaded words that we can hear in law enforcement: active shooter,” Singas said during a news conference Wednesday morning. “And with this defendant’s actions, we join the scores of American communities that have faced ravaging gun violence and mass shootings. It has come to Nassau County.”

Stop & Shop manager Ray Wishropp, 49, of Valley Stream, died of his injuries from the shooting. A 50-year-old man from Bethpage and a 26-year-old woman from Bay Shore, both employees of the store, are in the hospital recovering from injuries. Two other employees were shot at but unharmed. The West Hempstead Stop & Shop location will remain closed until 6 a.m. on Sunday, according to its website.

Investigators believe Wilson first worked at the Long Beach Stop & Shop for about two years, and then transferred to the West Hempstead Stop & Shop, where he has worked as a shopping cart collector for about two years.

About a month ago, a female employee filed a harassment complaint against Wilson, according to Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick, commander of the Nassau County Police Department’s homicide squad. Shoppers had also complained about Wilson exhibiting aggressive behavior.

Then, on Tuesday, he entered a manager’s office to ask about the process for transferring to the Hempstead Stop & Shop location in an “uneventful” conversation. About 40 minutes later, he allegedly returned and committed the shooting. The first 911 call for shots fired arrived at about 11:18 a.m. Wilson fled the scene on foot with the .380 caliber semiautomatic weapon.

In cooperation with the Hempstead Police Department, Nassau police found and arrested Wilson shortly after 3 p.m. at 100 Terrace Ave. in Hempstead.

Wilson has a criminal history dating back to July 2006 for assault and narcotics possession in Baltimore, according to Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. He was also involved in an altercation in Maryland in which he was shot in the head.

Ryder added that Wilson has no criminal history in New York, but he was treated for mental health crises in Nassau County in 2016 and 2019. Wilson was ordered held without bail and is due back in court on Friday.

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